They are often called Gen Y or simply millennials.
They are the Manatee County residents who are 18 to 34 years old.
This year, millennials surpassed baby boomers in the United States with an estimated 75.4 million vs. 74.9 million. And about 64,000 of those millennials are in Manatee County, research by the Nielsen Company shows.
Millennials also represent 21 percent of consumer discretionary purchases in the United States and have a trillion dollars in buying power at their computer-savvy fingertips, according to the Millennial Marketing website.
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Manatee Community Foundation, which strives to be the philanthropic organization of choice for donors in Manatee County, has decided to reach out specifically to this powerful group of future Manatee leaders this year and turn them on to the rewards of becoming philanthropic.
Susie Bowie, executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation, and her team decided the perfect place to roll out their plan is the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s 2016 Giving Challenge. The annual challenge creates 24 hours of zaniness in which people can use their phones, tablets and laptops to go online and donate to their favorite nonprofit organizations.
So, for this year’s event, which begins at noon Tuesday and continues until noon Wednesday, the Manatee Community Foundation is joining with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to put up nine grants totaling $20,000. The grants will be awarded to nine organizations located in or serving Manatee County that allow millennials in their organizations to run their Giving Challenge campaigns, Bowie said.
126 The number of Manatee not-for-profits seeking donations in the 2016 Giving Challenge
“There is so much great energy among young leaders in Manatee, and we wanted to find a way to encourage not-for-profits to utilize the strength of millennials to take their Giving Challenge to new levels,” Bowie said.
The organizations will be judged after the challenge to see who wins the nine grants, said Joan McCaw, grants and scholarships manager at Manatee Community Foundation.
Meet Damen, Ashley and Simone
Damen Hurd, Ashley Gill and Simone Peterson are Manatee County millennials who are running the Giving Challenge campaigns of their Manatee organizations, which are, respectively, Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center Inc., Girl Scouts of the Suncoast and Suncoast Community Capital.
These three young people are very competitive, and each wants their fellow millennial friends to donate at least $25 to their organizations during the madcap 24 hours.
The three say it is a tough mission because fellow millennials and others have such a large number of choices.
There’s no shortage of participants. All together, donors can choose from 559 nonprofits in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties during the Giving Challenge, said Murray Devine, a Giving Challenge spokesman.
Manatee County has at least 126 not-for-profits, McCaw said.
The nonprofits fall into 12 categories: human services, animal services, arts, culture and humanities, community improvement, capacity building, (organizations that work to help other nonprofits grow), diseases, disorders and medical disciplines, education, environment, health, housing and shelter, recreation and sports and youth development, Devine said.
A voice for injured wild animals
Hurd, 34, is vice president of the decades-old Wildlife Inc., whose mission is to rescue and love every kind of injured wild animal that finds its way to its headquarters in Bradenton Beach.
The tireless Hurd can be found Monday through Saturday giving one-hour tours at Mixon Fruit Farms, which houses rescue animals from Wildlife Inc. His fascinating tours — which include introductions to Ra, a rescued Nile crocodile; Butter, a 70-pound Burmese python; and Pawny, a bobcat who takes medicine for seizures — are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at 2525 27th St. E., Bradenton, and cost $5 for kids and $10 for adults.
Tour participants will hear Hurd’s donation pitch as he plants seeds for the Giving Challenge. Like many millennials, he isn’t shy about speaking up for what he believes in.
“I believe strongly in our organization,” Hurd said. “I feel I can be a voice for injured wild animals.”
Social media is comfort food for millennials like Hurd. He is using Facebook as well as lots of word of mouth to his millennial friends.
“My strategy to get people to donate at Giving Challenge is to reach out to everyone through our Wildlife Inc. Facebook page and talk about Wildlife Inc. to everyone I meet,” Hurd said.
If Hurd had a bent toward sculpting, he would no doubt build statues to Ed and Gail Straight, who started Wildlife Inc. with their own money and raced around the area picking up animals without asking for anything much in return, Hurd said.
“I love them,” Hurd said. “They don’t push to get their message out there. But it’s a great message. So I am doing it for them.”
Push for Girl Scouts
Gill, 32, is a manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida and is dedicated to building confidence in girls, as was done for her as a Girl Scout growing up in Kansas.
I was raised with a strong work ethic and to respect my elders. I think other millennials in Manatee are not that different from me. I think we all want to go forward with the foundation our elders have built for us here, and making girls into strong leaders is part of that.
Ashley Gill, Girl Scouts of the Gulfcoast
She said people should donate to Girl Scouts this week because their money will help girls in the community.
“There are so many girls in West Bradenton who don’t have the opportunity to be in Scouts, and if we could reach out to those girls they would be empowered,” the energetic Gill said. “I think a girl could become president if she starts in Girl Scouts. We teach so many things, but it starts with confidence in themselves.”
Gill said she likes the chances that millennials she knows will come through with donations.
“I was raised with a strong work ethic and to respect my elders. I think other millennials in Manatee are not that different from me,” Gill said. “I think we all want to go forward with the foundation our elders have built for us here and making girls into strong leaders is part of that.”
Donations to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida will also allow the Girl Scouts to keep up with any maintenance at Girl Scout House, where hundreds of girls meet weekly at 1801 17th Ave. W., Bradenton.
Suncoast helps marginalized people
Peterson, 27, serves as a board member for Suncoast Community Capital, which helps people build wealth through Build A Business classes, social media lessons, tax preparation and other services. Peterson is also a neighborhood specialist for Manatee County government.
She has worked with Suncoast Community Capital clients and says she was moved by the experience.
Millennial, to me, means being the next generation to kind of take Manatee County into not a new direction, but the next level as far as leadership. We, millennials, can make decisions now that will impact our county for the next 20 or 30 years, not only for us but our children’s children.
Simone Peterson, 27, Suncoast Community Capital
“Suncoast is an organization that helps Manatee people of low income achieve better financial situations,” Peterson said. “We teach how to put ideas into action, how social media works, business from A to Z, and we have an enterprise center where people can receive resumé help and be connected to community resources.
“People don’t really know about us,” Peterson added. “My job will be to raise awareness of what we do and how young people can get involved in our organization.”
Peterson feels strongly about what being a millennial means to her.
“Millennial, to me, means being the next generation to kind of take Manatee County into not a new direction, but the next level as far as leadership,” she said. “We, millennials, can make decisions now that will impact our county for the next 20 or 30 years, not only for us but our children’s children.”
Some special events
Throughout Manatee, organizations are hosting special events during the Giving Challenge.
The Humane Society of Manatee County and Turning Points are hosting a “Hands & Paws Happy Hour” from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Motorworks Brewing, 1014 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.
The Manatee Community Foundation’s office at 2820 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton will be open for the 24 hours with highlights and treats, McCaw said.
“We are inviting the community to stop by,” McCaw said.
The roughly 126 Manatee organizations seeking donations represent five of the 12 categories, including human services, health, environment and animal related, education and arts, culture and humanities. Human services make up 44 percent of the 126 categories.
In human services, some of the Manatee nonprofits include Hope Family Services, Manatee Community Action Agency, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, Turning Points, Salvation Army of Manatee, Family Resources, Stillpoint House of Prayer, Foundation for Dreams, The Center at Anna Maria Island, Adopt-A-Family of Manatee, Goodwill Manasota, Manatee Children’s Services, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Suncoast Community Capital, Women’s Resource Center, Jim Russo Prison Ministry and Giving Alliance of Myakka City and others.
In health care, Manatee has Centerstone of Florida, We Care Manatee, Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee, Roskamp Institute and others.
In environment and animals, Manatee has the Manatee County Audubon Society, Honor Animal Rescue and Wildlife, Inc., and Nature’s Academy and others.
In education, Manatee has Early Learning Coalition of Manatee, Manatee County 4-H Association, Police Athletic League, Project Light of Manatee and others.
In arts, culture and humanities, Manatee has ArtCenter Manatee, Cortez Cultural Center, South Florida Museum, Manatee County Historical Commission, Manatee Players and others.
Last year, people gave a record-setting $7 million to 449 organizations from the four counties, with 36,417 people taking part over the 24 hours, Devine said.
The Patterson Foundation will provide a 2-to-1 match for contributions from new donors up to $100 per donor per organization, Devine said.
The Patterson Foundation will also provide 1-to-1 match for returning donors up to $100 per donor per organization.
Finally, the Patterson Foundation will give out $51,000 in prizes for nonprofits that “cultivate the highest total dollars of new and returning donations,” Devine added.
To access the list of all the participating organizations and get in-depth information about them, including those based in Manatee, people should go to thegivingpartner.org.
Anyone who wishes to give during the challenge can make a secure donation (minimum gift is $25) by debit or credit card at givingpartnerchallenge.org.
Here’s how Manatee’s 126 organizations in the upcoming Giving Challenge break down
- Human services —55 or 44 percent
- Healthcare —11 or 9 percent
- Animal and Environment — 17 or 13 percent
- Education — 30 or 24 percent
- Arts, culture and humanities —13 or 10 percent
Data from Manatee Community Foundation