Campbell Collins is a Finance major at Wake Forest University, and a former Manning & Napier Intern with our Advisory Services team. As a young philanthropist, she has worked with Teens for Haiti for several years, also serving as the organization’s Director of Fundraising. Campbell has seen the value, firsthand, that young people can bring to non-profit organizations. Below, she shares her experience on fundraising as a teen and how organizations can engage this younger generation.
Opportunities to be a part of a non-profit organization when you are 17 years old do not come often. Fortunately for me, not only did I have the chance to join one that impacted the community of St. Suzanne, Haiti, but did so by helping to raise over $70,000. Based on my experience, teenagers are a largely untapped market for volunteers and fundraisers.
I first became involved with the organization, Teens for Haiti (a sect of the non-profit, Renew Haiti) through their annual dance marathon fundraiser. After participating in the event as a dancer, I decided to join the group and applied to be on the board. During my junior year of high school, I became the Director of Fundraising. In my first year as director, Teens for Haiti raised over $30,000 and over $40,000 the following year.
The reality is when given the chance, many teenagers, like me, jump at the opportunity to join more extracurriculars to enhance their resumes. Students are motivated to make themselves stand out to perspective colleges and jobs. For instance, my current school requires an interview prior to being accepted. My experience with Teens for Haiti is a great conversational piece that will continue to differentiate me during future interviews, whether it be for an employer, school, or organization.
For non-profit organizations, the benefits of having these young volunteers are enormous. Teens gain philanthropic experience and organizations gain exposure and expand fundraising efforts. Renew Haiti did not have to make a smaller sect dedicated to teens, but in doing so, they were, and are still able to, raise significantly more.
Unfortunately, the challenge is reaching this age group as they are not using the normal channels used for recruiting. A great way to get in front of these young adults is by reaching out to school counselors or teachers and informing them of your non-profit’s mission and opportunities for them to get involved.
My advice for organizations that hesitate to engage young fundraisers because they worry teens won’t be able to communicate well to potential donors or might not have the confidence to make the ask, is that, from what I have gathered of my peers, teens are very motivated to compete. Use this to your advantage and remember there are growing pains with every new group of volunteers. When teens are given opportunities like mine, they will be able to learn from their experience and apply what they’ve learned for future fundraising and later in life.
And for teens joining non-profits, one of the biggest lessons I learned from my experience was to “embrace the awkward.” When a 17-year-old is asking an adult for a large sum of money it can be intimidating and extremely awkward. However, after having those uncomfortable conversations, I am now equipped to speak with almost anyone in a confident manner – all while giving back to St. Suzanne, Haiti.