Engaging Gen X and Y, Fundraising Across Generations, Generational Philanthropy

Engaging Gen X and Y: Stay Classy, San Diego!


I was lucky enough to speak with Pat Walsh, one of the founders of StayClassy about how he got twenty-somethings to be philanthropists through… drinking beer.

Six years ago, Pat Walsh and Scot Chisholm organized a fundraiser to support the American Cancer Society in honor of Scot’s mom who had been diagnosed with cancer. What type of fundraiser would two guys in their twenties host? If you guessed “pub crawl” you would be correct. The event was a great success and it raised a few grand to support cancer.  It also kicked off a series of fundraising events.  Before they knew it, Pat and Scott were hosting festivals, walk/runs, music concerts and all sorts of fundraising events to support different nonprofits. This dynamic duo shed light on what kids in their twenties could do to support nonprofits.

“Nonprofits didn’t think of young people as donors. We were leading this movement of young professionals in San Diego to get them more involved in philanthropy and give back to their community.”

There is a misconception that a philanthropist gives millions.  Pat and Scot were collecting small donations through these events and transforming kids into philanthropists. Over three years, they created a network of 25,000 members and ultimately launched StayClassy.org, an online platform providing all nonprofit resources for hosting events. Today, the organization has 125,000 members and 1,400 registered nonprofits.

StayClassy is an on-demand social fundraising solution for nonprofit organizations that allows nonprofits to accept online donations, organize fundraising events and campaigns, engage new donors across social media, and easily track their progress.

One of the key ways to attract and nurture younger donors is through social media. And StayClassy helps nonprofits develop social fundraising solutions.”

Pat feels this online trend was really inspired through the Obama campaign. The campaign fundraising numbers painted a picture of a new and younger donor.  Obama recruited supporters through Facebook, with three to four times the number of followers than McCain. Of the $6.5 million total campaign donations raised, $6 million were donations less than $100.

“It was a large presence built, fueled and funded by micro-donations.”

The Obama campaign made professional fundraisers stop and re-consider their tactics.  We know that fundraising success is focused on large donations from a few donors.  And then social fundraising emerged and the rules changed.

Pat feels that there is advantage to raising small donations from many people: “Receiving a hundred donations of $50 each is just as beneficial as one $5,000 donation because you have 100 new donors and you have an opportunity to nurture each relationship over time and grow the donation.”

StayClassy works with new and well-established organizations to utilize technology to raise awareness and solicit donations.  They also award these noprofits for their incredible work through the StayClassy Awards.  In 2009, Invisible Children – a nonprofit started by a couple of guys in their early twenties – won the award for nonprofit of the year.

“We have seen a lot of young people start nonprofits. A bunch of young professionals who have personally been affected by the cause band together and started offering services.”

Social media is a natural tool to the young nonprofit founder because it how s/he normally communicates with his/her friends and collegues.  StayClassy combines that with strategy to produce fundraising success.

Does your nonprofit utilize social media to raise awareness for your cause? Do you utilize online fundraising resources like StayClassy?

Next post, I will share the story behind the making of the phenomenon know as Invisible Children.

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