Bringing Youth Philanthropy Home

By Mark Larimer, Foundant Technologies

In the fall of 2015, after three years sponsoring Youth Philanthropy Connect (YPC) during events across the country, Foundant brought the youth philanthropy movement home to Bozeman, Montana. A partnership with our local Bozeman Area Community Foundation (BACF) and Bozeman Youth Initiative (BYI) allowed us to offer a grantmaking program to local youth ages 13–18, the Youth Giving Project. Foundant supported the program financially, BACF offered expertise and community connections, and BYI added youth development experience to the mix.

Part of our goal in starting the Youth Giving Project was to use the knowledge we’d gained from our work with YPC to jump-start our own project, while also keeping our eyes on lessons we learned along the way that we could then share with others.

Ask your community

Asking questions is the first, and probably most important, step we took in creating our program. Asking questions offers not only the opportunity to establish need but also opens doors you might not have known were there. Talking with constituents of your program and your potential grants can shed light on needs, confirm (or, in some cases, debunk) your assumptions of what the community will support, and ultimately save you time on adjustments or corrections later on. This initial outreach is also your first step in creating partnerships that can help with your ongoing effort and offer the expertise you might need as you move forward.

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5 Challenges to Teamwork in Family Giving

By Dawn Franks, Your Philanthropy 

Based on “5 Keys to Build Teamwork in Family Giving,” originally posted on Your Philanthropy’s YP Journal on March 23, 2016. 

“Coming together is a beginning,” said Henry Ford. “Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” I know Henry was referring to building cars, but that quote also holds the keys to a sustainable blend of family and philanthropy. Success depends on teamwork in family giving.

Over the past 10 years I’ve had the opportunity to work with more than 25 families involved with different styles of family giving—from the family pocket, from a donor advised fund, and from private family foundations. Each family brings all their personality, operating style, and history with them to each gathering of the family, and that includes when philanthropy is the subject.

Yet families don’t often see themselves functioning as a team. Differences and dysfunctions can be a hindrance to team building. Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team in which he describes the interpersonal aspects of team building. Each dysfunction is highly applicable to families involved in philanthropy.

Absence of Trust

If it seems unlikely that a family would lack trust, remember that no one knows us like our family. They know the best and the worst of us. Family knows our natural talents and every wart. So it isn’t surprising that, as Lencioni describes it, we might be unwilling to be vulnerable. Yet, as I have sat with families while they do the work of giving together, it’s when they value one another’s differences that they excel. Trust comes from knowing we can work toward a common good even with all the warts in the room.

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Youth Giving: A hub to inform and inspire youth grantmaking

By Lauren Hasey Maher, independent philanthropy consultant

After working in philanthropy for over a decade I have witnessed the never-ending cycle of frustration and elation as we work together to tackle society’s seemingly intractable issues. It can be hard to not get jaded as cycles often repeat themselves. As a new mother I feel everything more intensely, and it is hard to not be overwhelmed by tragic events and the daily barrage of bad news. Thankfully, my job lets me see the fruits of the labor of many generations of families and individuals working together to impact their communities in a positive way.

It has been my sincere privilege to interview young givers around the world for Foundation Center’s new Youth Giving hub. This website is designed to piece together the story of youth giving programs (more than 800 worldwide!) and the funders who support them by curating case studies, grants data, program information, expert perspectives, news stories, and more. For the purposes of this website, youth giving usually refers to giving by those ages 8-30. It is impossible not to be inspired by their solution-oriented problem-solving within their communities.

youthgiving-org

Although each youth grantmaking story is unique, there are also common themes.

Young givers are great listeners. They tend to ask those affected about helpful and valuable solutions. The YouthBank in Samsun, Turkey is a small group of youth, sponsored by a community foundation, who make grants to their peers and mentor them through their project to improve the local community. Before choosing a funding focus they conduct an annual one-on-one needs assessment asking their peers three questions: What do you want to see change? What is missing for young people? What is necessary for youth in Samsun?

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Youth Philanthropy: Collaborative From the Start

By Nathaniel James, Exponent Philanthropy

Originally featured on GMNsight, a professional journal written for and by the members of Grants Managers Network

In philanthropy, it seems everyone is talking about collaboration. The more we aspire to work together, the more we find that effective collaborations require patience, practice, and sometimes teach hard lessons. Earlier this year, Michael Moody wrote that aspiring collaborative donors “face distinct challenges related to their own capacity and power [and] their tolerance for risk and transparency.”

So, whereas we understand the rewards of collaboration to be high, collaboration is still hard. But what if this is just a phase for philanthropy?

Panel at Youth Philanthropy Connect 2016 International Conference

This summer, I participated in the international Youth Philanthropy Connect Conference, aptly titled “Building Tomorrow, Together: The Future of Philanthropy,” and I observed an ease of relationship-building that could one day transform our field. There I saw the future of philanthropy, those in the 8- to 21-year-old set for whom collaboration is a central part of who they are and how their first experiences unfold.

Over five years, the conference has grown to 58 participating organizations and 180 participants. During the launch presentation on the new YouthGiving.org site, we learned that the global youth philanthropy field has distributed over $15 million in grants since 2001, making it a distinct new entrant into the larger nonprofit sector and one whose influence is just starting to be felt.

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The Young Hearts of Louisiana

By Scott Brazda, The Stuller Family Foundation

Photo credit: MELISSA LEAKE/US COAST GUARD/HAN/EPA

Photo credit: MELISSA LEAKE/US COAST GUARD/HAN/EPA

In the face of tragedy, there has also been pure, philanthropic magic.

On August 12, the deluge began here in south Louisiana, and during the days that followed, there have been numbers that simply want to make you cry: 40,000 homes damaged. 20,000 people rescued. 6.9 trillion (no typo) gallons of rainfall. 13 deaths. $40 million in damages (and counting). From Lafayette to Baton Rouge, lives have been uprooted, treasured memories lost, and faith shaken to its very core.

Our United Ways, the American Red Cross, and other organizations were quickly mobilized, and immediate aid was sent to many in need. My TV station, KATC, teamed with four United Way chapters for ‘The Spirit of Acadiana Flood Relief Telethon’ and raised nearly $150,000 in only three hours, all because of the generous spirit of wonderful people, many of whom had already seen their ‘pre-flooding’ lives derailed by the downturn in the oil industry. People have given and given and given again, with money, food, shelter, labor, connections, and prayers.

It’s like, you know you love your community and its people, but you never really appreciate it until you see their hearts in action. And the people of south Louisiana have huge, caring hearts.

What has dazzled me even more is the volunteerism being exhibited by our young people.

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Hypothesis: Shorter Board Terms Can Increase Family Engagement

By Carrie Avery, The Durfee Foundation

As the president of a family foundation that has made the transition to an all third-generation board, I am often asked by colleagues for tips on successfully engaging next gen family members. Here is one: consider offering one-year, renewable board terms to family.

I haven’t done a study on this, but I would guess that many boards have adopted something akin to the traditional model of three-year terms. Three-year terms have the advantage of providing some certainty about board composition, but a three-year commitment can be daunting to a family member who is not well into middle age. At an earlier stage in life, it can be difficult to know where you will be in three years. You could go to grad school far away, get married, start a new job, start another new job, become a parent, or move to a different state or another country. With all that uncertainty, a three-year commitment to anything can seem onerous. Some might decide to forgo the board altogether.

At The Durfee Foundation, we have long had a practice of offering one-year, renewable terms to family trustees. We also have non-family trustees, who are elected for two-year, nonrenewable terms. Some family members renew year after year. Others have taken breaks at different times in their lives when the demands of family or work did not allow board service. Board terms begin in January, and we check in with trustees each fall to see what their plans are for the coming year.

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More Ways to Create Space for Your Next Generation

By Stephen Alexander, Exponent Philanthropy

Last year, for organizations positioned to engage young leaders and for young leaders themselves, a colleague and I shared ways to create a welcoming space for the next generation to learn and build confidence. See Are You Creating Space for Young Leaders to Lead? >>

Because the challenge of engaging the next generation—and getting engaged as a young leader—persists for many Exponent Philanthropy members, I offer here three additional ways to create space at the table for your next generation.

Cultivate an open and supportive culture

Culture matters, a lot. Take the article It’s Not Foundation Money but Culture and Talent That Can Change the World, referencing research by Community Wealth Partners, work by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and a study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy—all suggesting that culture is key inside and outside philanthropic organizations.

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Youth Engagement: A Road Trip

By The Youth Philanthropy Connect Team

Last year, Youth Philanthropy Connect (YPC), a special initiative of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, took a road trip to engage with youth philanthropists. We had a great time and met nearly 500 youth and adult philanthropists from across the country, while journeying thousands of miles.

In the spirit of our road trip and YPC, we would like to share with you some of our key learnings through the words of youth philanthropists.

Adapted from the original post (January 8, 2016)

In Houston, Ashley Deutser, now a YPC leadership team member and a junior at Kincaid School, wrote, “Being exposed to increasing need in our community through my leadership role on the Greater Houston Community Foundation‘s Youth Philanthropy Connect Conference has opened my eyes and my heart to the plight of others. ….Giving comes in all different shapes, sizes and ways. We cannot wait for others to do what we can do today.”

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What We Know About Millennial Grantmakers

By Stephen Alexander, Exponent Philanthropy

Much is being reported about the Millennial generation, in philanthropy and beyond, and data on Millennials from our recently released 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report add some interesting points to the discussion.

When asked about the most important issues facing their foundations, Millennial survey respondents were:

  • Twice as likely as the overall survey pool to prioritize field of interest/funding area needs.

As reported by The Millennial Impact Project, “Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions.” They’ve also come of age in an era when social and environmental issues around the globe are more visible than ever before. Could this be part of why our Millennial members emphasize field of interest/funding area needs? Do they feel that there’s more work to be done to address the causes the foundation funds?

  • One-third (34%) more likely to identify a need for greater focus or impact in grantmaking.        

Think back on how often you’ve read the words focus or impact in articles and reports, or the number of times you’ve heard these words at conferences, in meetings, or on phone calls. Millennials are entering philanthropy at a time when focus and impact are being touted as key to effective philanthropy. (Guilty as charged.) In a recent article on six family philanthropy trends to watch in 2016, the National Center for Family Philanthropy included both impact and the growing involvement of Millennials.

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The “Next Gen” Is Not as “Other” as You May Think

By Kerry McHugh, The Helen J. Serini Foundation, and Katherine Palms, HP Family Foundation

Recognizing that the next generation is truly a diverse group—including many looking for ways to make change—is the first step toward bringing the next generation along for the wonderful, incredible, and challenging ride that we all know philanthropy can be.

(Whereas folks of all ages may consider themselves the “next generation,” in this post we’re referring primarily to millennials—those currently in their 20s and 30s.)

Kerry and peers at Exponent Philanthropy's Next Gen Fellows Program

Kerry and peers at Exponent Philanthropy’s Next Gen Fellows Program

We are both proud to be members of the next generation of our family foundations. As younger members of the philanthropic community, we are continually excited by the opportunity to talk with others about everything from grantmaking to collective impact. Perhaps what is most exciting to us, though, is the opportunity to speak with others about ways to more fully engage the next generation in philanthropy.

Most of the conversations we’ve had around this subject are marked by a sense of enthusiasm, excitement, and desire for growth. But that’s not to say we haven’t faced challenging questions as well, including these: 

Isn’t the next generation a selfish generation? How do we engage them? 

Katherine on a site visit as part of Exponent Philanthropy's Next Gen Fellows Program

Katherine on a site visit as part of Exponent Philanthropy’s Next Gen Fellows Program

If you believe that every member of a generation is selfish, it is easy enough to find abundant evidence to support that claim. But if you look for proof of the opposite, there’s plenty of evidence in that camp too. For example, according to a 2012 report by The American Dream Composite Index, individuals ages 24-35 are more likely to participate in crowdfunding efforts than older generations; an Associated Press-GfK poll found that individuals under age 30 are more likely to state that they have a “very important obligation” to volunteer than their older counterparts.

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