The philanthropy bug is hitting younger and younger, according to experts, in large part because of young people’s facility with technology and networking with peers and on social media. Kids are having an astounding effect on charitable causes, raising monumental amounts of money for their causes of choice and dedicating themselves to future careers as philanthropists and charity workers.
For example, Maya Rigler, a 10-year-old cancer patient in Pennsylvania, has collected more than $100,000 for pediatric cancer research through a website set up with the charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Diagnosed with cancer for the second time (she beat cancer at age two but now faces a completely different pancreatic cancer), Rigler and her parents use their website to raise awareness and funds. Within a week of creating the page, they reached their initial goal of $10,000. By mid-March, three months later, they had reached $100,000—the most ever raised via an Alex’s Lemonade Stand site. Rigler’s current goal is $250,000.
Brett Mezrow, an 11-year-old whose best friend Niels Strautnieks suffers from mitochondrial disease, created a video program to raise awareness—and funds—for the research and treatment of the disease. Though Strautnieks was initially a bit shy about speaking out, the boys have since raised more than $1,500 with their campaign, which they now hope will go viral, similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. They plan to pitch their campaign to nearby high schoolers to get assistance in spreading the word online.
Richard Marker, a professor at New York University and a philanthropy consultant, suggests that campaigns like Rigler’s and Mezrow’s are successful not so much because young people these days are more concerned with philanthropic issues than kids in the past were, but because it’s easier to create and build on connections through social media and other forms of technology. Not only does this make it easier to get the word out, but it also makes it easier for young philanthropists to connect with bigger organizations
With such promising beginnings, who knows what amazing things Generation Z will accomplish in the future?