In Palm Springs, Searching for the Next Bob Hope

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November 2012; Source: Palm Springs Life

Older, well-heeled philanthropists like Bob Hope and Walter and Leonore Annenberg have helped to make the Palm Springs, Calif. area a center of giving. Older donors have encouraged the formation of 1,000 nonprofits in California’s Coachella Valley and have established a number of high-profile events and charity balls. For a long time, the region’s charitable community prospered from the contributions of actors and other film industry personnel. Palm Springs Life, a lifestyles publication covering the area, explores how the tough economic times, changing social landscape and new generation of givers may be altering the area’s philanthropic landscape.

Fundraisers across the region say younger givers have some different concerns than the Bob Hope generation. One of those is that, even in Palm Springs, the continuing poor economy and unemployment rate breed a general uncertainty about the future. Fundraisers are trying to overcome those concerns by reminding the new generation that whether they can give a little or a lot, volunteering and making a financial contribution at any level can make a difference.

Alexis Ortega, a 25-year-old interactive marketing specialist for the Desert AIDS Project, says that young philanthropists “want to be given a sense of purpose that comes with philanthropy” and that they are “not just content with giving monthly or annually to organizations. If they have the time, they want to do something, too.” Ortega says that younger givers also want to hear back about how their money has been used and she also points to what she sees as another shift among the upcoming generation of philanthropists: younger givers like to share the fact that they have made contributions with their friends.

While older folks may have kept their giving close to the vest, younger givers “want their friends to know about their philanthropy” and are therefore more likely to share their passions on Facebook, Twitter and social media, Ortega notes. Since this type of passionate sharing is known to trigger more giving by friends, harnessing this passion and channeling it into social media campaigns could pay off for nonprofits not just in Palm Springs, but across the world. For more on how to tap into some best practices on harnessing this “social fundraising” dynamic, consider reading “How to Turn Your Stakeholders into Fundraisers: Social Fundraising and How Measurement Can Make It More Effective” by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. –Mary Jo Draper