The United Way is a Canadian charity that plays a key role in bringing the whole Ottawa community together to change lives. I had the chance, many years ago, to see the United Way up close and personal. Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to attend SchmoozeFest 09, an event staged by the charity’s Next Generation Cabinet, whose mission is to raise awareness and engage people between 20 to 40. And they did just that! Hundreds of ‘whippersnappers’ came to schmooze, that is to network, and raise money for this excellent cause at the same time.
Chris Neil, co- chair of the cabinat told a local reporter that he thinks the time from age 20 to 40 is busy. “You’ve got people who are starting their careers, their families and buying their first houses. In modern times, we can get very disconnected from the community,” he said.
To add to the challenge of fundraising, there’s definitely a concern that philanthropy is not something of the new demographic, said Neil. “The concern is that the core base of donors will retire and that base funding for charity will start dwindling away,” he said. “Unless we start now by engaging the demographic and raising awareness of what’s going on in the community, that’s going to be lost.”
This is the reason that the charity has embraced social media as a primary communications channel too. It’s use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms has been extremely successful is bringing the younger demographic into the United Way fold.
If last night was anything to go by, it’s working. Although I fall (slightly) outside the target audience in terms of age group, I brought along two 20-somethings who proclaimed Schmoozefest to be a great night out. I look forward to finding out how much was raised.