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Teaming up to tap the energy of youth
Posted by Kristi Heim
Many nonprofits would like to get young people involved as volunteers and donors, but they're not sure how to reach them.
Ryan Hodgson is using music to open the door. His organization, Team Up for Nonprofits, is hosting its second event in downtown Seattle tonight to benefit Seattle Works. They're getting a boost from local speed skater J.R. Celski. After meeting him through a colleague, Hodgson heard that Celski wanted to do a musical event to give money to a nonprofit and asked him to join forces with Team Up.
Each monthly Gigs4Good event supports a different nonprofit and combines entertainment with raising money and awareness. This time, Rotary is sponsoring the bands, which also helps local Rotary clubs connect to potential new members.
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES
"What we want is to have this active group of younger individuals in the community, and each time they come they get exposed to a new nonprofit," Hodgson said. The goal is to help young people find a cause that resonates and stick with it over time. "We really want to foster philanthropy and make it a lasting opportunity."
Beneficiaries include the arts, environment and social justice, and both large and small nonprofits.
"We're going to try to spread the love," he said.
People in their 20s and 30s may not have the incomes to write big checks yet, but they make up for it in energy, as Hodgson's own all-volunteer organization shows. It's also the mission of Seattle Works to give young people ways to volunteer, donate and lead projects in the community.
Hodgson, 36, now has a day job at Comcast, but before that he took six months off to get Team Up for Nonprofits off the ground, and volunteer board members have been busy spreading the word online. Part of the group's mission is to help train nonprofits to use social media to expand their reach.
Tapping in to new supporters is critical at a time when donations are lagging. A GuideStar study of more than 7,000 nonprofits found that 40 percent of charities reported a decline in giving in the first five months of this year. Yet more than 60 percent of nonprofits reported demand for their services has increased.
Three months after its first event, Team Up is now getting two or three emails a day from nonprofits that want to partner with it, Hodgson said.
The first Gigs4Good was relatively small and raised about $2,000, Hodgson said. Momentum has been building and the group is starting to get more sponsors to offset the costs for the musicians, venue and advertising.
"You have to do the hard work and prove you're going to stick around before people get involved," he said. "We're hoping to raise a lot more than that tonight."
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