Who Are Pittsburgh's Young Philanthropists?

Nonprofit organizations are finding that Next-Gen donors crave opportunities to give of their time and talents as well as their dollars. Meet 12 young givers who are doing just that in Pittsburgh.



(page 1 of 4)

Maybe it’s a bad rap. Maybe headline writers are taking too many liberties by calling them the “Me, Me, Me Generation.” Maybe the next generation of Pittsburgh philanthropists is giving, in its own way.

In Pittsburgh and elsewhere, nonprofit organizations and foundations are discovering that traditional vehicles of fundraising once key to their survival — mailings, face-to-face solicitations, exclusive formal events — have fallen out of favor with Next-Gen targets of those appeals. Tried-and-true techniques that once convinced Baby Boomers and their parents to open their wallets no longer are sure things to evoke a similar response from their Millennial (roughly, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) and Gen Z, or post-Millennial (born in the late 1990s/early 2000s) offspring. 

So how do charitable groups today convince new generations to put their money behind the causes or programs they support?

“Older generations were raised on the belief that philanthropy was simply part of being a good citizen,” says David Swisher, president of Animal Friends in Ohio Township. “That concept is not quite as ingrained as it once was. Finding an active way for [young donors] to participate is key to beginning to grow and cultivate a relationship.”

The problem has been studied and documented by numerous notable think tanks, among them the New York-based Foundation Center. In its 2013 Millennial Impact Report, it wrote: “The top takeaway: Millennials first support causes they are passionate about (rather than institutions), so it’s up to organizations to inspire them and show them that their support can make a tangible difference on the wider issue. The question for nonprofits becomes then: How can we fully invest in this generation, immerse them in the cause, and maximize the impact of their interest, time, and giving?”

​Millennials give in order to make an impact, and they prefer to share information about causes rather than organizations, the Foundation Center report adds. They rely on peer influence, and they prefer to connect and give through social media, mobile platforms and social networks or events, according to the report.
 

Locally, those findings are echoed in a study released earlier this year by Campos Inc., the Downtown-based research and strategy firm. It, too, suggests that Millennials aren’t likely to whip out their checkbooks in wild abandon or measure the value of charitable giving with regard to exclusive access to events and member discounts. A large number of young donors, however, are very willing to tap into philanthropic spirit when they strongly believe in a cause, researchers conclude in “Membership Reboot,” a Campos 2016 Consumer Behavior Trends report.

“Millennials are a very important cohort that is already in play, with an increasing percentage of them now in their 30s and their median household income surpassing $70,000. They are optimistic and cause-oriented,” while members of Generation Z are more cautious and pragmatic, says Alice Greene, Campos vice president, secondary research.
They supplement their financial donations with those of time and talent, whether by serving at a soup kitchen or teaching illiterate adults to read. They place more value on memorable experiences than they do on things, and they want to serve and participate in order to feel enriched and that they have shared holistically.

Young givers celebrate the ideals of belonging, inclusiveness and making an impact, unlike those in previous generations who favored the notion of membership having its privileges — think exclusive, invitation-only parties or members-only discounts.

In part, those qualities inspired Signature Financial Planning president Scott Tobe to create the SteelTree Fund. It embodies a “Shark Tank” format to support next-generation innovators with an eye on strengthening continuity in the Jewish community.

If you want to see younger donors line up to get involved, you must change the game so they are able to participate actively and assume decision-making capabilities — and you’ll turn them off with rubber-stamped committee decisions, bureaucracy and pay-to-play events, Tobe says.

“They will only become part of an institution if they feel they can have a direct impact,” he adds.

And maintaining that engagement and charitable commitment requires continual effort and finesse, particularly in persistent evaluation of the ways in which organizations reach young audiences. Active social media accounts are crucial, says Charlie LaVallee, CEO of Variety - The Children’s Charity — although he adds one caveat. “We need to also focus on other community-based events to reach this population that allows them to have fun and learn about our cause,” he says.

When an organization does that successfully, it will tap into a hands-on, passionate group motivated by a strong sense of duty for public service and a deep desire to establish a connection with a cause. From that group, we introduce a dozen young professionals and students who embody an outstanding spirit of local giving.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.
Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

A proposed route for new electric buses will connect 30,000 people throughout 24 neighborhoods.
Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” a movie based on the best-selling comedic novel, will begin filming in the ‘Burgh next month.
What We Know about Anthony Bourdain’s Visit to Pittsburgh

What We Know about Anthony Bourdain’s Visit to Pittsburgh

While Bourdain and his crew aren’t talking, they left plenty of hints about what’s likely to be in the Pittsburgh episode of “Parts Unknown.”
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

On the eve of its largest annual event, the Pittsburgh Curling Club has plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

The North Shore landmark's new ropes course is a draw for adults and youths alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

The desire for more a year ago helped fuel the Penguins’ quest to repeat this season. Should their thirst for yet another Cup prove as unquenchable next season, there’s no limit to what they might yet achieve. Even a Three-peat.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

You’ll definitely want to pin these new summer wedding trends to your Pinterest board.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

From a forest of Japanese maples to a rocky urban sanctuary, the annual tour covers 14 very different gardens across the East End.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments

Edit Module