Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

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 Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Waste Not: Kelly Lane's Fashion Designs are Eco-Chic

After noting how much fabric ends up in landfills, Pittsburgh designer Kelly Simpson-Scupelli found a way to incorporate the unused scraps into her fashion line.

Three Rivers Champion: Sloane Davidson

Davidson started an organization that gives refugee and immigrant families aid based on real, person-to-person relationships, not transactions.

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Associate Editor Lauren Davidson appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the fall Weddings issue.

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

New TV Series Shot in Pittsburgh Area Premiering This Month

See if you recognize any of the locations in the thriller “One Dollar.”

Bocce, Pasta, Music and More Highlight Little Italy Days

Experience Italian culture and cuisine during Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days.

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Comments

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Comments

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

The owners of the Bloomfield vegan eatery introduce a limited run of whole sunflower heads that you can eat like corn.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

Ah, the good old days. They may be gone, but there are still a few places where you can get a blast from the past.

Comments

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments


Revisiting Fat Head's

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

Comments

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

The new driving-range game is way over the top, but the game it's offering is fun and they'll ensure you have a good time.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
In Ben They Trust

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

Comments

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Ryan Shazier's battle back from a paralyzing injury last season and his subsequent rehabilitation from spinal stabilization surgery is a more compelling saga than the Steelers’ quest to reach Super Bowl LIII.​

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Comments

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

These proposal faux pas serve as a reminder that sometimes things have to go wrong to end up right.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

Comments

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Comments