Being busy isn’t a reason to avoid connecting with other youth philanthropists—it’s a reason to do it. We’re Kylie and Sarah, and we’re both members of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation Junior Board and the Youth Philanthropy Connect (YPC) Leadership Team. We’ve been getting to know lots of other youth philanthropists across the U.S. for over three years through Youth Philanthropy Connect conferences and the YPC Leadership Team, where we have met lots of other youth that are weaving the web that is our network. Here are the top 5 benefits we have found from staying connected to other youth philanthropists:
- Having a network of people with similar and diverse experiences is really helpful. If you’re struggling with something and don’t have time to figure it out, you can bounce ideas back and forth to find answers. For example, all of our schedules can be really busy. We have talked to other youth about how they manage scheduling across their junior board and make time for giving.
- Getting to know other young grant makers inspires you to give to other types of organizations. Understanding what other youth enjoying giving to has helped us expand our horizons and inspire us. In the Fall of 2015, we gathered at the Seattle YPC Regional Conference where we and many of our fellow junior board members heard from Building Leaders in Innovative Giving (B.L.I.N.G.) and Youth Funding Youth Ideas about how they approach social justice and the grantmaking they as youth philanthropists do in their nonprofits. As a result of our increased knowledge and passion for social justice, for our collaborative grant theme this year, we chose as a junior board to focus on mentoring which helps level the playing field for kids who don’t have positive adults around them. We know we have also learned about specific nonprofits to research from other youth too!
- Sometimes, it can feel kind of like you are alone when you are working on a really big problem or social issue by yourself. When you know that others are doing similar work—that it is not just you or your family or your group trying to do something— you feel like you are part of something. You realize there is a whole group of people fighting to changing the world. Every month, we both meet by video chat with youth from across the country leading YPC in a group called the Youth Leadership Team. We share updates on our work and sometimes our struggles too. We know this is a group of young people doing similar work that we can email and text. We know even in this small group of 21, we are all working on the future of philanthropy from nearby places like Orange County, or from afar, like North Carolina and Texas.
- It’s bigger than just you!! You never know when something you are doing can turn into something much bigger. YPC started as just two families in 2010. By 2014, it had nearly 800 people engaged! You can make a bigger difference when you collaborate, whether that’s by working with a junior board or making a change in another way. Our junior board has also worked together for more impact on our individual grants. For example, Kylie and her sister combined their individual grants this year to give to a youth theatre program because they both appreciated their grant proposal so much and wanted to be able to support the organization beyond what was offered for the single competitive grant (and gave more than was requested!).
- We are changing the world together. The time we invest in connecting and learning with one another improves our giving. We learn best practices and gain experience to more effectively support amazing nonprofits so that they can make change, which in turn helps their impact grow. Overall, it’s not a lot of hours, but setting aside dedicated time to improve our practices help us create bigger change in a smarter way.
You can see all the benefits from connecting with others. Now, we hope you’re convinced to make the time. There are even more ways to engage with others. YouthGiving.org is a great place to start. You can look at the program directory and find and contact other programs near you. You can also check out the funding map to find others who fund what you do. Don’t forget about making time for your own community and connections in other ways. Sarah has put in extra time to volunteer with an afterschool program that we funded; Kylie has helped her school’s youth philanthropy program through sharing her knowledge and insights. Regardless of which option you choose, it doesn’t take a lot of time to send an email or call someone and invite them to your meeting or have a video chat!
We make the time because working together is key to our work. We, as the YPC Leadership Team, also plan events with youth across the country to connect youth philanthropists. You can attend an event to interact with other youth philanthropists. We hope to see you at the next YPC International Conference!