What Is the Significance of the Experiential Philanthropy Model for Millennials?

December 11, 2018

On 12.1.18 the Learning by Giving Foundation hosted Boston’s first large-scale, one-day philanthropy event, Philanthropy on the Field. We were able to successfully engage over 180 emerging leaders at Fenway Park who then used their time, talent, and treasure to distribute over $100,500 to 21 local nonprofits doing impactful work in the Greater Boston community. Kelly Ferguson, a young professional from Silver Lining Mentoring, shared with us her experience at being a representative from one of the 21 nonprofits. (To view Kelly’s original post, please click here)

Silver Lining Mentoring was fortunate to have participated this past Saturday in an innovative experiential philanthropy event for young professionals, hosted by the Learning by Giving Foundation (LxG). I, along with about 20 other nonprofit organizations, attended and represented SLM along with one of our longtime volunteer leaders, Brenna Melo.

This event, the first of its kind in Boston, focused on engaging millennials in the philanthropic space. The program included a full day of critical thinking and learning about philanthropic giving, engaging speakers, and the opportunity for event participants to direct over $100,000 of funding to the nonprofit organizations of their choosing.

A stand-out of the event was the unique occasion to have a meaningful, two-way conversation with potential supporters.

Learning by Giving uses the RISE framework as a tool to spark and guide this exchange between event participants and nonprofit representatives. Rebecca Riccio, Director of the Northeastern Social Impact Lab and creator of the RISE framework, led an effective primer on how to use this tool in order to focus the scope of one’s evaluation by asking the most discerning questions.

Event participants reviewed the non-profits’ applications. After, they talked in groups with organization representatives around their prepared questions. They then used an app on their phones to rate how they evaluated these organizations in terms of their “Relevance, Impact, Sustainability and Excellence in Management and Operations” (RISE).

Young professional attendees, in addition to directing $60,000 of funding by rating nonprofits, also each had $100 vouchers to donate to the participating non-profits. These vouchers were a part of everyone’s entrance tickets and could be dispersed among four nonprofit organizations.

Silver Lining Mentoring is grateful to have been selected to receive $15,000 of funding, based on our participant ratings.

I hope to see more events like this on the horizon, especially those aimed at young professionals. By 2020, millennials will be the largest demographic group in the country. Additionally, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of Census Bureau data, millennials are the most diverse and highly educated generation to exist thus far in human history.

With this in mind, it is vital that those in the philanthropic space provide opportunities which appeal to and truly engage with this emergent generation of philanthropic leaders. Philanthropy on the Field was one such opportunity.

Event participants got answers in real time to their most pressing questions about the values and the work of the nonprofit organizations in attendance. They then used that information to inform where they directed their personal donations as well as event-based funding totaling over $100,000. Now that is a meaningful exchange.

Thank you very much to the Learning by Giving Foundation, their sponsors and corporate partners, the speakers, and the many volunteers, who made this stimulating event possible!

(Right) Kelly Ferguson, Development Operations Associate at Silver Lining Mentoring, (Left) Brenna Melo, Volunteer Leader and Chair of Board of Ambassadors at Silver Lining Mentoring