Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Crain's New York Business reported that kids raise the bar on giving

Crain's New York Business reported that kids raise the bar on giving with Facebook fundraisers, even their own foundations.

When Shannon McNamara was 13, her parents took her and her siblings to Peru during summer vacation to volunteer in an orphanage.

“At the beginning of the trip, I was thinking, 'Why can't I be on a cruise ship instead?' ” said Ms. McNamara, now 17 and a senior in high school in Basking Ridge, N.J. But the experience was “worth more than any cruise or trip to Disneyland could give you,” she said.

The family took a similar trip to Africa three years ago, and Ms. McNamara started her own nonprofit, Share (Shannon's After-School Reading Exchange), shortly after to help educate African girls. She has since volunteered in Tanzania every summer, and has collected 23,000 books and shipped them to schools there. She has also begun raising money for scholarships.

Meet the teen philanthropists. Armed with new technology and an awareness of global issues, post-Millennials are engaging in social entrepreneurship in previously unimaginable ways. Though still materialistic, these teens and even preteens want to do something more significant than acquire the latest i-Pod Touch or Wii.

Looking for a purpose
Borrowing from trends in celebrity charity, kids are mobilizing their peers to address everything from infant mortality in developing nations to neighborhood concerns. They're donating presents to charity, and they're establishing their own nonprofits.

“The number of kids creating their own organizations and taking action for causes they care about is skyrocketing,” said Nancy Lublin, chief executive of DoSomething.org, a New York-based nonprofit that helps young people to engage in philanthropy.

“Kids today just saw their parents go through a recession, get laid off and struggle,” Ms. Lublin said. “They look around and say: 'What's the point? I don't just want a second car in my driveway. I want a life of purpose.' ”

In the past year, 79% of girls in the United States have contributed food or clothing, 53% have given their own money, and 66% have asked family or friends to give or volunteer, according to research commissioned by the United Nations Foundation.


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