Lessons in philanthropy

Hi, I'm Lilly. This summer I have the chance to do a lot of new things working as the assistant for The Numad Group. I plan to post a little on here about what I am learning.

About a month ago I received a really wonderful award for my community service. The most exciting part of the award was the opportunity to select a nonprofit organization to receive a $500.00 gift. I loved the idea of being able to make a difference in my community in a different form then I am used to. I am a teenager, and so I have never really had enough money to make what feels like an impactful contribution.

It was the task of choosing the nonprofit which would receive this donation that I really learned from. First of all, it was difficult. There is so much great work being done by nonprofits in our area. The issues that these organizations address, and certainly the people they support, are all important. I wasn’t quite in the situation where I could just throw money at every organization that I thought was doing important work. While $500.00 is a lot of money, I knew it would make more of an impact on some programs than others, and I wanted to be able to see the direct benefits our community saw from this donation.

I am lucky to be involved in a number of volunteering and community service groups through a program called Teen Up. In the last few years I have often been a part of discussions about how to raise money for different projects. One example from this year was a prom for senior citizens that was organized by Teen Up in which I was the head of the marketing and fundraising committee. In the early weeks of planning, the only way I could think of to raise money was to start a Go Fund Me account. As time went on, I ended up visiting with several different local businesses to see if they were interested in contributing funds. We soon raised enough money and held a wonderful dance at the Minneluzahan Senior Center.

I have spent a considerable amount of time asking others to donate to projects I care about. Trying to raise money is a lot more familiar to me than giving money away. It turns out that both sides of philanthropy, giving and receiving, can be complicated but also really rewarding.

It came down to selecting an organization that I think does great work on an issue that is really important to me – homelessness among Rapid City’s youth. In the past year I have worked a lot with The Hope Center through the Homeless Coalition Youth Task Force. There is a lot of great work being done there. I had a conversation with the people there to learn about what $500.00 could accomplish in their work with youth. I knew that was where I wanted the money to go.

Working at The Numad Group has put me in an environment where there is near-constant talk about nonprofits, how to help them fund their work, how to talk about their work in a clear and compelling way, and much more. I’m learning about fundraising way beyond car washes and about what it takes to help nonprofits be as successful as they can be. I am really grateful to be here!