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Good for Santa Barbara

Next Generation of Givers Eager to Make Own Impact with Philanthropy

As young adults, millenials finding new ways to give back while learning crucial nonprofit leadership skills

The Rotaract Club of Santa Barbara holds its monthly meeting at Rusty’s Pizza on Upper State Street. Supported by local Rotary Clubs, it is designed for young adults 18 to 35 years old. Click to view larger
The Rotaract Club of Santa Barbara holds its monthly meeting at Rusty’s Pizza on Upper State Street. Supported by local Rotary Clubs, it is designed for young adults 18 to 35 years old. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The next generation — the millennials — are continuing the tradition of philanthropy. They just do things a little differently than their parents and grandparents. While they may not have earned the big bucks just yet to donate, they’re finding other ways to become involved and contribute.

UC Santa Barbara student Megan Jones is co-chairwoman for UCSB First, an on-campus philanthropic organization committed to giving back to the university’s student community. Founded in 2010, the organization works on projects such as the senior class gift and quarterly events to highlight and donate to nonprofits.

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Jones’ interest in philanthropy began in high school in Cupertino when she became involved with National Charity League, the mother-daughter service philanthropy.

“I am a strong believer in giving back,” she said. “To improve the future, you have to start with the now.”

While UCSB First has grown in just six years, it still faces challenges, especially “making students understand that in order to give back, it doesn’t have to be monetary,” Jones wrote in an e-mail interview. “We have a saying at UCSB: ‘First, you can give back through your time, talent or treasury.’”

An important part of UCSB First’s mission is to “target students through events and encourage them to learn about what we do, to learn about private giving and why it is important,” she said.

Nicole Klanfer, senior director of principal and leadership gifts at UC Santa Barbara, interviews John Arnhold, chairman of First Eagle Investment Management and director of First Eagle Holdings Inc., during a recent UCSB First town hall. Click to view larger
Nicole Klanfer, senior director of principal and leadership gifts at UC Santa Barbara, interviews John Arnhold, chairman of First Eagle Investment Management and director of First Eagle Holdings Inc., during a recent UCSB First town hall. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

This approach encourages Jones’ generation to start giving back and fosters future philanthropic endeavors, creating the next generation of philanthropists.

Rotaract Club of Santa Barbara also encourages younger people to get involved with charities. Supported by local Rotary Clubs, it was designed for young adults, 18 to 35 years old.

“People in our age group are going through a lot of life changes: finishing college, entering the work force, moving to a new city — lots of changes that might result in looking for new people to hang out with,” said Lauren Harris, Rotaract vice president.

“(Rotaract) is a great way to meet new people your age while giving back to the community.”

The organization gives young adults leadership experience while they also learn how to be philanthropic. All Rotaract positions are held by millennials, and members are encouraged to propose projects or events.

“This allows everyone to feel more invested and ensure that members will get to work on a project they enjoy,” Harris told Noozhawk.

Beverly Colgate, associate vice chancellor of development and executive director of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation, gives the keynote address to the UCSB First Club during a recent event at Corwin Pavilion. Click to view larger
Beverly Colgate, associate vice chancellor of development and executive director of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation, gives the keynote address to the UCSB First Club during a recent event at Corwin Pavilion. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Rotaract puts on such events as the miniature golf tournament at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and the Trolley of Lights during the holiday season. Members also have contributed to Backyard Bounty, Relay for Life and Channel Island Restoration.

A popular way for college students to become involved in philanthropy is through the Greek life of sororities and fraternities at UCSB. Each house contributes to a specific charity, which is the same for that sorority or fraternity across the country.

Each organization also has student officers. Danielle Moss, a fourth-year UCSB student, is the philanthropy chairwoman for Alpha Delta Pi.

Moss first became involved in philanthropy through her family’s Canyon Creek Summer Camp in Angeles National Forest near Lake Hughes, north of Los Angeles. Seven years ago, her father and his two partners created the Harold Robinson Foundation, which provides funds for low-income children to attend the summer camp.

That experience influenced Moss’ decision to become philanthropy chairwoman for her sorority.

“I wanted to get involved with my chapter to rewrite the philanthropy narrative and how we see it,” she said. “A lot of times in Greek life, we forget about the fact that philanthropy events are helping people and raising money. Instead, it’s a social thing.”

As philanthropy chairwoman, Moss plans events for her chapter. All proceeds from ADPi events benefit the nonprofit Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides housing for families so they can stay close to their hospitalized children.

Alpha Delta Pi’s biggest fundraiser is its annual Wiffle Ball game and it also organizes a biannual blood drive that supports the American Red Cross.

Whether through a university or an outside organization, young adults are working together to give back. Millennials don’t need to donate money to be philanthropic. They are revealing the countless ways they can make a difference.

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Noozhawk intern Sarah Scarminach can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Among the fundraising events organized by Rotaract of Santa Barbara is an annual miniature golf tournament at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to benefit the Courthouse Legacy Foundation. Click to view larger
Among the fundraising events organized by Rotaract of Santa Barbara is an annual miniature golf tournament at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to benefit the Courthouse Legacy Foundation. (Rotaract of Santa Barbara photo)

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