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Friday, June 21, 2013

100 Days of Gratitude, Day 13: Accidental Encounters

Mabel's on Main, Scottsdale, AZ
On a regular basis, we encounter people that we didn't expect to meet. Tonight was no exception.

We just wrapped up a successful "mini" drive at KAWC Colorado River Public Media in Yuma, Arizona. We're en route to a presentation for AFP Vancouver Island and AFP Wine Country. We had a Living Social deal for Mabel's on Main in Scottsdale, Arizona, that was good to use the night before an early morning departure.

At one point, a young man approached our table and asked to take our extra chair. Moments later, after Jim initiated a conversation, we have two new table companions, Joshua and Tiffany.

During the course of the conversation, surprisingly, we discuss commitment to nonprofits. Tiffany is an active volunteer who has been clearly raised with a volunteer ethic. She demonstrated very quickly that she was excited about the nonprofit causes that she has chosen and spoke articulately and passionately about her causes.

Joshua is about to initiate a great adventure. He is going to hike through southeast Asia and support a new business there. When we met him, he was celebrating an award winning business project with his team for his (slightly) delayed senior year at Arizona State University.

These two young people made us continue to be thankful for the next generation of philanthropists and leaders. Some in the nonprofit sector are confused and perplexed by the Millennial generation of donors and volunteers--how do we fit them into the existing model that we have for our organizations?

Our answer? Don't.

Millennial donors/volunteers/activists don't want to fit into the traditional nonprofit volunteer or donor model, These young people didn't necessarily want to serve in a traditional role on a board or committee. Here are some of our ideas about Millennial generation nonprofit contributors:


  • Provide concrete ways to contribute: Tiffany saw the board of one of her organizations struggle to interpret marketing information. She said, "They were looking at all these spreadsheets, and I knew I was supposed to just observe, but I couldn't help myself when they didn't understand them. I spoke up." She knew she could contribute, so she decided to! Good for her, because I think she helped the nonprofit make a more effective decision, and was invited to serve on the board!
  • Provide something immediate to do: These two are ready to experience life to the fullest and won't be bothered with meetings, bureaucracy, and "that's the way we've always done it." 
  • Model behavior: Tiffany was very proud of her mother and mom's "Angie's Angels." From what she described, I don't blame her. Mom, an attorney, has demonstrated commitment to nonprofits both to her staff and to her daughter. Tiffany said that her mom's mandated days of service with her staff were an inspiration. Don't underestimate what your commitment to service may influence.
It was wonderful to meet such inspiring young people, totally by accident. We wish them luck and hope that they'll connect and keep us up to date on their accomplishments. I know they will both do great work.




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