How To Connect With New & Young Money (Hint: Look At Your Phone)

Sarah Rose is 7 years old.

Her dad is a construction worker who fixes things in my house and then some.  By that I mean he will often notice a leaky faucet or a cracked floor tile, go back to his truck for whatever he needs to make things better.

I think this is where Sarah got the notion in her head to ask for 4 pairs of shoes for Christmas that year.

“Shoes?  OK, Sarah.  But why would you want 4 pairs of shoes,”  her dad asked.

“Oh, I don’t want the shoes for me, dad,”  Sarah answered.  “I want to give them to other people who need them.”

She got her 4 pairs of shoes that year.  And then she made sent some texts from her phone and asked her surprised teacher if her class could bring more shoes to school.  By the time the holidays were over, Sarah had collected hundreds of pairs of shoes to donate to a local charity and Sarah’s Shoes was born.  This campaign now receives shoe donations from almost every major sneaker manufacturer as well as her entire school.

Not bad for a third grader and QWERTY monster.

What is a QWERTY monster?

You see them everywhere.  Teenagers from 12 – 17 who constantly text on their mobile phones and according to recent studies, they are nipping at the heels of the Millennials as the next generation of nonprofit donors.

Millennials are an emerging demographic force to be reckoned with.  The Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University released a report describing how Millennial donors approach giving and suggests ways to build relationships with this extremely connected and global generation.

Currently Millennial donors give markedly less than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts. And they give less frequently.  But as they complete their education and begin to earn higher income, they are expected to give considerably more in the near future.

Ninety-three percent of Millennials regularly go online, with 50 percent of this population using mobile Internet.   Even though Millennials give in smaller amounts, the report also suggests that donation amounts are more keyed to where a person is in their phase of life – and that Millennials will be entering years of earning more money.

Are QWERTY monsters the nonprofit donors of the future?


In Dearborn, Michigan, the Teen Grantmaking Initiative (TGI), a group of 20 young philanthropists in Michigan sponsored by the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), awarded five $1,000 grants to area non-profit organizations serving youth in the metro Detroit community last July.

Over the past nine months, TGI members actively fundraised, learned about community needs, visited grantee organizations, participated in service projects, and reviewed grant proposals from prospective organizations.

TGI member Fatima Al-Hakim said she is proud of the work that the teens accomplished this year.

“Being a part of this program ignited my passion for philanthropy,” beamed Fatima Al-Hakim, a young TGI member. “The most important idea I took away from TGI is that you really have to start from your local community to make a lasting change throughout the world.”

One of the projects they funded is:

  • Arts and Scraps – $1,000 for art kits, marketing and promotion of projects, and staff time at an environmentally-friendly, curriculum based arts organization located in Detroit.


Brookline Teen Grantmakers

Young teens in Brookline Massachusetts have a tremendous opportunity to change their world as grantmakers and philanthropists by being part of the Brookline Teen Grantmakers (BTG), a program of the Brookline Community Foundation.  Teen grantmakers have awarded $34,000 to local nonprofits since 2011.  This past year, the grantmakers focused on awarding projects that created strong, vibrant communities through the arts.

Brookline Teen Grantmakers 2014 Grantees

Brookline Music School
Early Music Education Program

The goal of the Early Music Education Program is to provide high quality early music education to children from low-income families in Brookline; to engage children and their families in the shared experience of music and to create opportunities for youth to participate fully in the Brookline Music School (BMS) community. The grant supports the enrollment of six to eight children in classes during the 2014-2015 school year. BMS will partner with the Brookline Housing Authority, Brookline Early Education Program and the Parent Child Home Program to identify and recruit children and families who will most benefit from the program.

Council on Aging
Senior Theater Weekend

The Brookline Council on Aging (COA) works with Watertown’s New Repertory Theater to bring two theatrical performances per year to Brookline with the aim of reducing social isolation and increasing access to the arts for Brookline residents aged 60+. With this grant, the COA will offer tickets at a discount or free of charge to the town’s low-income seniors.

Devotion School Alliance
Devotion Scholars Program

The Devotion Scholars Program offers individual drum lessons to 25 students with behavioral and emotional challenges at Devotion School. This program gives students individual adult attention, an opportunity to excel in a non-academic school setting and through their June performance, the chance to be seen as contributing to the school community. The grant helps fund the salary and benefits of the drum instructor.

Gateway Arts/Vinfen
Up the Ladder

Gateway Arts, an internationally recognized arts-based vocational service of Vinfen, creates meaningful lives and careers in art for individuals with developmental, psychiatric and other disabilities. Gateway provides its participants with artistic instruction and social services that promote independent, pride filled lives through the production and sale of fine art and crafts, focusing on its artists’ abilities, not on their disabilities. The grant is helping to fund Gateway’s Up The Ladder program which works with 25 artists with disabilities by pairing them with accredited art professionals and by providing individualized facilitation in the studios, portfolio development and marketing outreach.

Ideas in Action
TedxBeacon Street Fall Conference

The grant will support the 2014 Ideas In Action program that includes TEDxBeaconStreet, TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet, TEDxBeaconStreet Adventures and an Adventure Catalyst Program the weekend of November 15-16, 2014. Emanating from the Lincoln School, with live telecasts to multiple venues, the speakers and participants will discuss innovative ideas, experience captivating adventures and use these experiences to learn, grow, change lives, create community impact and inspire societal change. Talks and adventures will be filmed, edited and posted to a website making them accessible worldwide.

Steps to Success
After Hours U/Teen Advantage Visual Thinking Skills Program

Steps to Success will support and strengthen the creative and critical thinking skills of its After Hours U/Teen Advantage (AH U/TA) program students, in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). AH U/TA staff will be trained by MFA educators to teach the Visual Thinking Skills curriculum, a nationally and internationally recognized curriculum, to lead structured, open-ended student discussions of a diverse selection of artistic images over the course of a year, twice per month. The program will cumulate in a student visit to the MFA to use Visual Thinking Skills to explore the MFA’s extensive collection. AH U/TA staff will also lead weekly studio art sessions at the AH U/TA school sites.

Something To Think About

This is a definite change is the funding landscape and a difficult one to wrap your head around.  Especially if you are several generations away from these new funders.

If you are a large organization you may be able to throw staff time and resources at this.  But smaller organizations and individual artists don’t.

I suggest you start by taking small steps and do a test so you can measure the impact and learn from the experience.

Try this:  Focus your attention on your website.  Make sure it is easily read on a mobile phone.  Take some time to understand how your target audience is using your website and what they are most likely to consume on their mobile phones.

Larger organizations may have the capacity and resources to make a bigger investment.   But many smaller organizations don’t.  That’s why it is a good idea to start with small, incremental steps and a low-risk proof of pilot where you can measure the impact and learn.

For example, focusing it on an event or taking an easy first step of making sure your web site is readable on a mobile phone.   After all, it is your URL – whether people view on a big desktop computer screen or a tiny mobile screen.  This can be as simple as changing to a free responsive theme especially if your blog is on a WordPress platform.

You can do this.

I did.  I actually changed the theme of my blog, yes, the one you are reading now, to a free responsive WordPress theme all by myself, thank you very much.


And so can you!



About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.