Kids and Kickstarter: The Rise of PhilanthroKids and Kid Crowdfunding! | Beth's Blog

Kids and Kickstarter: The Rise of PhilanthroKids and Kid Crowdfunding!


Charlotte, A Young Teen, Helping To Save Horse Farm Through A Kick Starter Campaign

Crowdfunding in general has raised more than 5.1 billion in 2013 and nonprofit fundraisers using crowdfunding platforms and techniques continues to explode (according to this infographic from Craig Newmark).   As nonprofits hone and refine peer to peer  fundraising best practices, we are also seeing more more people make philanthropy a part of their everyday personal expression – whether on social networks or in the real world.  There is a growing recognition, that personal success is not about solely about making a lot of money, but also giving it to charity as Ariana Huffington points out in Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

But giving, isn’t just about making a donation or volunteering your time.   It’s about engaging, participating, and being part of something bigger than yourself.   Perhaps that explains the appeal of community Giving Days or participating in global giving days like GivingTuesday.    We are starting to see a rise of crowd funding projects done by and for kids, perhaps as part of the trend of “PhilanthroTeens”  or “PhilanthroKids.”   These are teens (and pre-teens) with a passion for social change and who grew up not knowing what it was like to not to have a cell phone  or be connected to Facebook, know as Generation Z.      The media has dubbed this generation – “Qwerty Monsters” who send hundreds of text messages a day and don’t even like to use their phone for calls (and with two teens in my house, I can attest this is true).     But it is more than the technology, it is also their passion to do good in the world.

Here’s a few recent examples that I’ve spotted recently in my Facebook newsfeed, comments on my blog, and other online places.   What they all have in common is kids who are combining their passion with philanthropy.

1.  A Crowdfunding Campaign To Save A Horse Farm

Meet Charlotte, the teen daughter of one of my colleagues, Tom Subak, who is Chief Information Officer for a national charity and knows a thing or two about engaging young people and fundraising online.    Charlotte started riding horses when she was 5 years old. Her first ride was on “Ida” at Flying Change Farm — the farm that is now in danger of being lost by its owner, Diane Schoonmaker.   According to Tom, Diane and the other instructors at Flying Change are very special people. They practice what’s known as natural horsemanship, sometimes called horse whispering, where they focus on the connection between the horse and the rider, relying much less on physical domination and more on communication between the two.

The story is about how Diane has run into trouble with the local planning board is described here on her GoFundMe page and has incurred legal fees.  She is trying to raise money by selling one of her horses and crowdfunding money to help with her legal fees.  Charlotte is helping Diane garner attention for her campaign, by putting in to practice some good tips from her Dad!

2.  Crowdfunding Is Fueling A Dream To Be An Astronaut

My colleague, Stacey Monk, founder of Epic Change and one of the pioneers of peer-to-peer fundraising efforts incorporating social media, shared this NPR story about a Kickstarter Campaign by a Gideon, 15 year old boy who is from in Tanzania Africa.   At age 7, he knew his passion was space and wanted to be a rocket ship pilot.   The fact that he lived in a rural Tanzanian village where school only went up to the 6th grade did not stop him.   With help from Stacey Monk and inspiration from the potato salad guy on Kickstarter he has launched a crowd funding campaign to cover his school costs so he can become Tanzania’s first astronaut.   (He will also create a special recipe for Tanzanian Potato Salad).

3.   Raising Money To Fight Food Insecurity

Braeden Quinn Mannering is passionate about stopping food insecurity for families in need.  He created his own nonprofit and program called “”Brae’s Brown Bags” to help fight against hunger, probably making him one of the youngest nonprofit CEOs and founders.   He has used the money to purchase and distribute bottled water, fruit and other healthy snacks to those in need in his community.  He’s handed out more than 1,200 bags  to shelters, soup kitchens or even on the street.   Last year March at SXSW, at the Future of Nonprofits, I predicted that in the future we’d have many free agent, teenage do gooders  like Mark Horvath that nonprofits will engage with.  Well, Braeden is one of them.

Braeden was chosen to represent Delaware at the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge banquet at the White House. His taco bowl creation earned him a seat at dinner with the First Lady, who offered yet another challenge to pay it forward.  You can read about his efforts on his blog.   I first learned about Braeden’s work because he left a comment on one of my blog posts.    He’s established a nonprofit, been invited to the White House, and tirelessly promotes his cause – all at age 10!  Look out world!

4.   The Next Generation of Cause Marketing for Cystic Fibrosis Research

GivingTuesday is ramping up for its 2014 campaign and it looks like children and teens will be a part of the movement.    One example is Emily Barr from Maryland is a clever 5th grader who wants to help her best friend who has Cystic Fibrosis.  She is  making barrettes, selling them, and donating the proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. What could be better than that? She also takes the time to educate others about the disease and how to host a successful fundraiser.

Teens and preteens are passionate about social causes and fluent with online tools – so it comes as no surprise that we are seeing crowdfunding campaigns that they have created and are championing online, with just a little parental guidance and encouragement.   There are many other examples out there.

The question for nonprofits is – how can you leverage and empower teens and preteens to be philanthropists for your organization’s cause?


16 Responses

  1. Danielle Kempe (@DJDiG) says:

    I work for the MA Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Thanks for including a CFF funder on this list!

  2. This is a wonderfuk topic! So glad you have called attention to kid power. I have always been the one to say “Why dont we get the kids involved with this?” These days they’re involved before we are! So exciting!

  3. Beth says:

    Cynthia: Thanks for your comment. I was eager to write this up after getting questions about this at BlogHer ..

  4. Ann Luban says:

    It truly is incredible what kids are willing to do and are able to accomplish. Here is a link to an Indiegogo campaign started by two 12 year old kids to raise money to build a playground on the South Side of Chicago as their bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah project and party:

  5. Liz Gray says:

    I loved reading about these kids and their efforts. It’s amazing to think about the impact that generation “Qwerty Monsters” will have. The non-profit where I work, Positive Tracks, is focused on helping kids 23 and under Get Active and Give Back using the power of sport. We call it Philanthletics and we double the dollars for kids who raise money for our charity partners at athletic events like soccer or wiffle ball tourneys and half marathons. Check out just a few of our Success Stories: Thanks for the great article.

  6. I love the term PhilanthroKids and learning about the great work of these inspiring kids. I truly appreciate that you included my daughter, Emily, in your list! She’s very proud to share that so far this summer, she’s raised $540 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and will continue to sell ribbon barrettes during the school year.

    I look forward to supporting other PhilanthroKids by sharing their efforts through social media! It’s amazing what a ripple effect their efforts can have!

  7. Beth says:

    Leticia – your daughter is an inspiration!

  8. Monique Dion says:

    Thanks for these inspirational stories.

  9. Sophie says:

    These kids are awesome! they stand out to make difference.

  10. Thank you for writing this article, Beth. It’s a huge contribution to the field when leaders like you bring attention to kids as key stakeholders in social change.

    At YSA we say that “we need youth ASAP: creating Awareness about issues they care about; conducting direct Service projects; leading Advocacy efforts; and engaged in Philanthropy for causes that matter to them.” We are privileged to know and support thousands of kids doing amazing work around the world. (You can find information at Thanks again, Beth, for highlighting these leaders and

  11. […] written about the rise of Philanthrokids, those young people otherwise known as Generation Z, who are online social network savvy and can […]

  12. Andrea says:

    This is a topic we’re passionate about too! We saw that crowdfunding was spreading to entrepreneurs, artists, and large nonprofits for kids. We saw the largest barrier is lack of knowledge of how to crowdfund and lack of safe platforms for them.

    At Piggybackr, we’re bringing the candy bar and bake sale online and have helped many beginners transition into crowdfunding with proper instruction and age appropriate tips! Check us out (

  13. Beth says:

    Andrea, thanks for sharing

  14. […] Kanter, an author and expert on nonprofit trends, points to “PhilanthroKids” who are leading the way. Kanter writes that “we are starting to see a rise of crowd […]

  15. Nichole says:

    Kids are amazing! I’m lucky to work for an organization founded by a pioneer PhilanthroKid, Alex Scott, who used crowdfunding (before the word was even coined) to raise more than $1 million for childhood cancer research:

  16. […] Kanter, an author and expert on nonprofit trends, points to “PhilanthroKids” who are leading the way. Kanter writes that “we are starting to see a rise of crowd […]