“If we each give 1% of our income, it will mean $16 billion for charity.” Pretty crazy, right? For the average millennial, that equals about 67 cents per day. Lana Volftsun is the Executive Director at One Percent Foundation, which encourages young people to donate a small amount of their income in a way that makes a big impact. Here, she shows us how philanthropy is possible for everyone, not just those that can afford a new building at their alma mater:
SCOUT: Give us the elevator pitch – what is the One Percent Foundation?
LANA: It is a non-profit organization trying to build a movement of young philanthropists. Our goal is to get people aged 18 to 39 to contribute one percent of their income to charity.
SCOUT: And why that age group?
LANA: We noticed that young people weren’t really giving. Back in the day, people got married young and philanthropy was part of your family planyou’d save up and buy a house and a car. Now, people are getting married much later and they’re not buying houses or cars, and they’re not giving money away.
SCOUT: What little Scrooges!
LANA: Well, we found out that young people mostly give re-actively; for example, if your friend is doing a run for a cause. But, young people aren’t actually donating to the causes they feel strongly about. So we’re trying to figure out how to make the model more proactive than reactive, and help young people fund the causes they care about.
SCOUT: And One Percenters pool their money to make an even bigger impact...
LANA: We took the concept of the giving circle, which is a really old concept, and modernized it by putting it online. It’s basically you, your family, friends and community pooling your money together and giving as a group, so you’re leveraging pooled money, but also pooled knowledge, which lends to giving your money thoughtfully and strategically. We now have the largest online giving circle in the country.
SCOUT: How do you decide who gets the pooled money?
LANA: We give out grants quarterly to five main issue areas: health, environment, education, international aid and poverty. Every quarter we cycle through a new issue area, so this quarter is international aid. The first month of the quarter is nominations, where anyone who is a member can nominate an organization in that issue area. The second month is assessment, when the nominees are studied and narrowed by a group of One Percent volunteers. The last part of the quarter is voting! Then we give out grants to the top two organizations.
SCOUT: When did you first get in to the spirit of giving?
LANA: I’ve been giving since I was 12. Basically, my mom told me I had to give all my Bat Mitzvah money away. I wasn’t so happy about it at the time, but I got 19 of my friends together to donate with me, so we pooled our money together and created our own giving circle. We visited some of our local organizations and ended up giving about $15,000 away.
Click on over to One Percent to find out just how little (but how big of an impact) 1% of your salary is.