This article originally appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal here.
The face of philanthropy in the Philadelphia region is a far cry from the antiquated belief that charities are supported by wealthy, older Caucasian males. Donors today tend to be younger and more diverse, according to a study released by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Greater Philadelphia Chapter (AFP-GPC).
And a little thing called social media may have something to do with it, as 66 percent of those surveyed said donors are becoming more socially diverse.
“[With the] the advent of social media, and more and more folks using the Internet in order to advance their mission, we’re seeing a complementary rise of young people,” said Stan Retif, president of AFP-GPC.
Sixty-one percent of the respondents the association surveyed said they’re seeing their donor base getting younger as that new generation is becoming more civic-minded.
“We’re constantly trying to reach out to people for their respective missions, but we have to connect with them with a medium that they utilize,” Retif said. “More and more organizations realize that if you want to talk to young people, you have to do it with social media.”
The younger generation has always been interested in philanthropy, Retif said, but they may not have been given the opportunity to be “educated and oriented” to specific missions, nor were they the focus of the kinds of efforts organizations put forth now.
But social media is showing that donors don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to make an impact.
“People had a feeling that maybe their $10 didn’t matter, but we have now showed, with crowdsource fundraising, that $10 contributions can mean a lot. You’ve seen it during a time of crisis,” Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for the Knight Foundation, told me earlier. “The opportunity to contribute to an arts project has been democratized, and that’s a significant change in how arts funding is done.”
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Fifty-nine percent of the respondents also said its donor base is becoming more racially diverse, and 65 percent said donors are more culturally diverse, which may have to do with the United States’ changing population.
“It’s directly related to the population of the United States. We look at trends and we know that sometime in the next 10 to 20 years, the minority are no longer going to be minorities in many cases,” Retif said. “As that continues to grow, we’re going to see it play an even greater role in philanthropy.”
Non-Hispanic whites will lose their majority by 2043, according to the Associated Press.
Dollars packing the punch
What hasn’t changed in philanthropy is donors’ desire to have a positive impact on society and making sure their money is being used well.
Sixty-one percent of the respondents said donors make their decisions based on facts, rather than emotion, and that they are more interested in the impact of their donation, value foundation accountability and want to be well-informed and analytical about their decisions.
“I certainly think the heart certainly still plays an important role in the decision-making, but I don’t necessarily think it’s equal,” Retif said. “People want information and want to make sure dollars are being used to the purposes that they’re giving to.”
The importance of where the money is being spent is related to the recession, when many of the city’s cultural institutions went through financial crises after taking on massive debts before major upgrades or moves. (Read about Philadelphia’s cultural crisis here.)
Photo via Flickr user Davide Taviani.-30-
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