(This is a guest post from Sharna Goldseker,
Director, 21/64 & Vice President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, who is covering the Council on Foundations Conference for Tactical Philanthropy)
By Sharna Goldseker
I’ve been working with next generation funders for a little over a decade now–specifically at the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies for the last six years– and never have I seen such a collective representation of younger funders than at the Council on Foundations’ (COF) Summit these past few days. Our next generation philanthropy division, 21/64, has been working with Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Resource Generation to plan the first-ever Generational Leadership Program at a COF conference. From a Next Generation Retreat to Emerging Leader Salons, COF gave us the opportunity to create a track of sessions that would be relevant and meaningful and challenging to next generation funders as well as grantmaking professionals.
At Monday morning’s plenary, where AmericaSpeaks led a town hall meeting, I discovered just how many next gen and emerging leaders were attracted to this year’s Generational Leadership Program and other innovative Summit sessions. A quick demographic poll indicated that 17% of the people in the ballroom were between the ages of 20-34 and another 23% were between the ages of 35-44. Assuming that a few Gen Xers and Yers didn’t wake up for the 7am breakfast plenary, 40% of the nearly 3,000 people in attendance is quite a turn out.
At Monday afternoon’s Philanthropy 2.0 session, a standing room only crowd listened to Joe Green, Founder of Facebook Causes, Tom Gardner, Co-Founder of The Motley Fool/Foolanthropy, Rupa Modi, East Coast Development Manager of Kiva.org, Charles Best, Founder, DonorsChoose.org and Michael Smith, Director, Social Investments, The Case Foundation all took turns highlighting their web-based philanthropy applications and the power of those sites to have social and economic impact.
Facebook Causes has mobilized 12.5 million people to sign on to the Save Darfur Campaign, Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and others. Kiva.org has galvanized 270,000 lenders and $28 million in investments in 40,000 micro-entrepreneurs around the globe. DonorsChoose has catalyzed 70,000 donors and $26 million invested in 1.2 million students in U.S. public schools.
Whether at the COF Summit or online, I find the mobilization of younger funders and citizen philanthropists to be exhilarating. While older generations are wondering where the next generation of leaders are, I’ve certainly seen them this week.
It seems to me, if you offer them a seat at the table, they will fill it to capacity.