Kari McCann, President of the Iowa Council of Foundations
I started my career in philanthropy when I was an eighth grade student. I joined a youth philanthropy group in my hometown of Creston that was funded by the Dekko Foundation, an ICoF member organization. Dekko invests in youth philanthropy because “Research shows that philanthropy and service to community are learned skills. We want to help teens learn about philanthropy by DOING!” (www.dekkofoundation.org). I am so grateful for the investments the Dekko Foundation made in our community, our group and my personal growth and development. I absolutely would not be where I am today without their support and guidance.
A number of funders in the ICoF community host and support local youth philanthropy groups. Each group has its own identity, process and goals, but overall the benefits of any youth philanthropy program are many. If you are considering investing in youth philanthropy, here is a glimpse at your potential ROI:
- Young people who are engaged, connected and doing good in their community
- Grants being distributed to causes that young people care about and feel are important priorities
- Young people who learn the importance of philanthropy, community service and civic engagement
- Developing new leaders and future board members for your foundation board or other nonprofit boards
- Inspiring young people to be philanthropic now and in the future (these are our next donors)
Really, I could go on and on, so I’ll stop here. I recently had the opportunity to present a webinar sponsored by Youth Philanthropy Connect, an initiative of the Freida C. Fox Family Foundation, and Exponent Philanthropy. I spoke about how storytelling can be a powerful tool for youth philanthropy. Joining me for the presentation were two young people who have participated in YAPPERS (Youth Area Philanthropists), a program of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. Take a minute to listen to some of the powerful statements they make in this video and on the recording of our webinar. They are perfect examples of the positive impact this work can have on a young person and on a community.
I encourage you to think about ways your community foundation can incorporate youth in your programming, either by investing in a youth philanthropy program or inviting a youth representative to join your board or grants committee. ICoF is here as a resource to you as part of our commitment to grooming the next generation of philanthropic givers and leaders. Please contact me if you would like more information about youth philanthropy or you would like to be connected to others who are leading this work in Iowa and beyond.