A Shout-Out to Youth!

This entry to the One Post Challenge comes from Jamie Kong. Jamie is the Program Coordinator for YouthChoose, a DonorsChoose.org Youth Philanthropy Program.  DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit website that connects individual donors with teachers requesting materials and experiences their students need to thrive in the classroom.  When donors entrust large donations to the YouthChoose program, youth in the program have the opportunity to reflect on their own educational experiences and decide together how these funds can have the greatest impact on public school classrooms through the DonorsChoose.org website.  In this way, YouthChoose offers young people, who are often the beneficiaries of philanthropy, the chance to become philanthropists themselves.

Jamie Kong

A shout-out for youth.  They are the next generation of philanthropists.  It’s young people who are on MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Xanga, and are the segment of the population that is the most comfortable with blogging.  And it’s young people who will direct the future of philanthropy.  So, wouldn’t it be great if we could connect youth with the conversation that is happening here?

Reading the “$500 for Your Nonprofit” post got me thinking.  The beauty of this post is that it opened the conversation to everyone and gave everyone a chance to participate—even without a new idea to introduce.  It invited people who may not have their own conversation starter to join the discussion.

So, I would like to start a post for youth philanthropy.  If are a young person, share the issues you care about or your experiences with philanthropy. If you work with youth, share any ideas to increase youth engagement in philanthropy.  And if you don’t belong to either of these groups, share how your experiences as a young person informed your decisions about philanthropy today.  The sharing of experiences can be as catalytic as the sharing of ideas.


  1. Phil Bradley says:

    You could easily look at the success of the Facebook Causes app and come away happy that youth of the day seem willing to show their support for a cause; but let’s not forget, this is a very frictionless economy where just a few clicks is all that’s asked from you. I fear all this has achieved is reduced signal-to-noise ratio.

    We seem to be moving into an era where the Attention Economy is king – this is not good news for philanthropy.

    Despite this gloomy development, I think philanthropy has, quite characteristically, been slow to evolve and use the Internet’s to its benefit. There’s still a lot of untapped potential.

    I think an essential characteristic of new philanthropic initiatives online – and this is something a young person is more likely to understand intuitively, as we’re the main consumer of sites like Facebook, myspace etc – is that it’s increasingly about just offering groups and issues ‘blank canvases’ on which groups then ‘user-generate’ the content. Change.org is a very good example of this.

    As a young, wannabe entrepreneur, I think there’s some encouragement out there for me to get involved – like the 21st Century Challenge Prize here at Oxford – and the Internet is a wonderful resource in terms of blogs – like this one – which provide the much-needed iiinsight into what philanthropy is actually like. This is something I have found I have very little awareness of, but Philanthropy has become such a monolithic entity, largely unchanging for over a century, that even the youth of today who want to do things differently, can’t just ignore it and its expectations, demands, and the way the regulatory/tax framework has been built around it.

    Oh, nand I’d like some clearer tax/reg benefits for social entrepreurship, and for those to be harmonised around the world. The Internet is largely borderless – but when you move into business suddenly nationality and different tax codes becomes relevant. What a pain in the ass when you’re young!

  2. Nonprofit Person says:

    I truly hate the term “youth.” It’s such non-profit lingo. No one ever refers to themselves as a youth, so why do otherwise thoughtful people keep using the term? Teenagers? Kids? High schoolers? Just please not “youth.” It suggests that we are all hopelessly out of touch with the people we are working with as humans, and not just non-profit specimens.

  3. John Walker says:

    Frankly, I don’t see how providing the name of a nonprofit organization to which you’d like to see $500 donated is joining a discussion or conversation at all.

    I know that is not the point of this post, but it makes me wonder if we need to rethink the terms conversation and discussion as they relate to blogs.

  4. John, I think you are right. Check out the discussion going on here about the importance, or lack thereof, of the voting-type comments.