The longevity of many charities depends on the scaling up and continued support of future generations for these causes and the communities they serve. To retain young supporters, organizations must appeal to them and this often means adapting to changing modes of communication.
Joshua Berger, director of foundations, and Brian Sokol, director of development, both at the Menorah Park Foundation in Beachwood; and Ryan Levine, chairman of the board of directors for the Young Leaders Division of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in Beachwood, shared how they engage young leaders and secure the future of their organizations.
“We’re at a point where we have to think about our future generations and who will succeed our current board members over time,” Berger said. “We have due diligence to help support and educate younger generations on board responsibilities and fiduciary duties so that they are able to step up to the ‘big’ board when the time comes. .”
Berger noted that reaching young adults through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok has proven effective in sharing the stories of Menorah Park residents.
Berger also recognized ways young people can get involved unrelated to monetary donations.
“I believe young people are looking to engage with nonprofits in non-traditional ways,” Berger said.
At this point in their life, contributions may not come from a checkbook, but rather from social media acquaintances or other things that help the foundation think outside the box, Berger added.
“Having an interactive and intuitive website is also important, and we know that many people use their phones and tablets when online, so we make sure to have a mobile-friendly website that is easy to navigate,” said underlined Sokol.
Sokol said each generation is important to the success of a foundation.
“We say l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation,” Sokol said. “We cherish these important connections and should do our part to engage in a way that everyone finds meaning and understands how we fit into the fabric of their lives.”
Making charitable involvement a part of people’s lives at an early age is beneficial because those values will stay with them as they grow up, Levine pointed out. Involving young people in youth leadership councils is a beneficial way to include them in an organization’s efforts and give them a voice, he added.
It is important for organizations to be “agile” so that they can easily adapt to ever-changing means of communication, he added.
“I think it’s constantly evolving,” Levine said.
Levine mentioned that older generations, such as baby boomers and parents of today’s youth, have been very active and involved in making the Jewish Federation of Cleveland what it is and keeping it what it is. ‘she is, what started with their parents.
“I think it’s important for the younger generation to get involved early so they really understand what the organization does, who it benefits and how you can help it,” Levine said.
Sokol noted that there is a common misconception that philanthropy is for people at the end of life.
“We want to convey that it’s never too early to engage with an organization whose mission resonates with you,” Sokol said. “The amount of a gift is not as important as the sense of connection one feels, so no one should feel like their gift has no impact, because every gift makes a difference. “