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The art of giving: Groups engage young people through social media

The 25th annual Mudd Volleyball Tournament to benefit Carrie Tingley Hospital took place earlier this year. It is one highly visual example of community giving and fun. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s professional fundraisers know that when you scroll down in your favorite social media, you may donate to a worthy cause – whether it’s donating to a Facebook friend’s medical bills or supporting a local musician.

But, of course, just because you engage in crowdsource funding, that doesn’t mean you won’t donate in more traditional ways, right?

“I always say there is no competition in philanthropy,” said William Smith, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation. “There are multiple ways to give. The more the better.”

He like many others in the professional fundraising community understands that younger people are more likely to give to specific causes and they may find their opportunities on social media.

So he, like others, has become more savvy with social media.

“Everyone has a role,” he added, explaining a program at his foundation for younger donors that focuses on more immediate causes, like the environment.

Monet Silva

Monet Silva, executive director of the Carrie Tingley Foundation, says it’s not so hard to appeal to millennials, born between 1980 and 1994 and those even younger.

“Millennials will give if you give them a cause,” she said. “We found they are looking for something tangible to give to. We’ve used the gofundme model. We use social media to get in front of different groups. We work to get younger people on our different committees and boards.”

Carrie Tingley Hospital, part of the University of New Mexico’s hospital system, provides care for children and adolescents with orthopedic, rehabilitation needs, developmental needs and long-term disabilities.

The foundation was created to support the hospital’s work and more recently the families the hospital serves, Silva explained.

It supports camps for kids with physical disabilities. It supports adaptive sports programs and needs equipment for them, including trikes that kids in those programs ride along bosque trails.

For example, an appeal to a millennial wouldn’t just ask for donations to raise $100,000 for more trikes, but it would say each trike costs $400.

“They (millennials) know their $400 will go directly for a trike,” she said.

The foundation has direct fundraising through its events like the Festival of Trees, Mudd Volleyball and a golf tournament. It also has an endowment fund.

The foundation receives funding through individuals, corporations and grants. If it has a big project, the board may dip into its fund to get it rolling, Silva said.

The foundation counts heavily on volunteers and Silva estimated that she has about 150 volunteers that work on events, at the camps and for the sporting events.

“There’s not anything we do at the foundation that could be done without volunteers,” she said.

She, like others in local nonprofits, say they welcome donations, however they come – in a check, in-kind, automatic withdrawals or online.

While online contributions incur a service fee, Silva said they don’t ask donors to pay it on top of their contribution, unless donors choose to add the fee.

Ultimately the fee will come out of the donation, but it doesn’t have to dangle like an impediment, she said.

“We don’t want to put any barriers on giving,” she said.

Kirk Meyer, president of the Albuquerque Rotary Club, said the charitable foundation of the service club raises money from its members and from fundraisers like the annual Governors Charity Ball.

Individual clubs across the state decide what their service projects are and volunteer hours.

“It’s service above self,” he said of the Rotary motto. “Our club members are very involved in our projects. Members can volunteer and we have different ways for them to donate.”

He says they can donate online, buy an insurance policy and make their Rotary Club the beneficiary or remember the service club in their will.

Most still prefer to give with a check, he added. “Our membership is pretty traditional.”

This year Meyer’s club chose the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico as its grant recipient. The center asked for $35,000 and he believes the club can produce that amount.

“When we give the recipients the check,” he said. “That’s my favorite part.”