The One Percent Foundation, A Non-Profit, Wants To Help Millennials Turn Philanthropy Into A Habit

“Philanthropist” is a daunting word that conjures up images of Bruce Wayne and other people with so much excess money and time that they have to give it away. Most of us, on the other hand, need to budget carefully and the relatively modest sums we can afford to donate seem too insignificant. After all, how much difference can $20 make? Since 2007, a San Francisco-based non-profit called the One Percent Foundation has focused on convincing people–especially young adults–that every dollar they give matters. Now the group is seeking to help companies and organizations become more charitable with its new Pro Giving Circles, the customized, white-label version of its Giving Circles platform. The launch was timed to coincide with Giving Tuesday, an initiative that serves as a counterpoint to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The One Percent Foundation’s name refers not to the growing wealth gap, but the organization’s goal of motivating people to donate at least that amount of their income to worthy causes. People in their 20s to 30s are less likely to give money individually than their parents or grandparents, but they do contribute when asked by friends or colleagues to support a charity event or race, says Lana Volftsun, the One Percent Foundation’s executive director.

“For many millennials, affordability, knowledge and impact are very real barriers to a more sustained, deliberate approach to giving,” she says. “Many do not think they can afford to give, do not know where to give or how to evaluate the effectiveness of organizations, and do not believe their modest donations can make a difference.”

The One Percent Foundation tackles those obstacles with its Giving Circle platform, where groups of people pool their financial resources to make a larger impact. While other fundraising platform, like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and CrowdTilt, raise funds for a project or individual cause, Volftsun says that One Percent Foundation wants to turn philantrophy into a habit with its “subscription crowdfunding” model. Members of each Giving Circle can use the site to set up monthly recurring donations, nominate charitable organizations and vote to determine who receives the money.

“Instead of giving a couple hundred dollars on your own, our members are able to make a substantial impact when they combine their funds, often donating thousands as a group,” Volftsun says.

All of the money raised through One Percent Foundation’s Giving Circles are distributed in grants. The organization supports itself through two revenue streams: tipping, where members are promoted to add a couple of dollars to their monthly contributions to cover One Percent Foundation’s operating costs, and its new Pro Giving Circles.

The Pro Giving Circles platform is targeted at companies, schools and other organizations that want to create a sense of community among potential donors (discounted rates are available for qualifying non-profits). In addition to the features of regular Giving Circles, Pro Giving Circles also include one-on-one guidance from the One Percent Foundation’s staff and custom URL and branding.

Potential use cases include non-profit groups and universities, who can create a Giving Circle on the platform to engage alumni and other potential donors instead of hitting them up every so often with fundraising drives. Startups, meanwhile, can use Pro Giving Circle to create a sense of camaraderie among employees by teaming up and supporting groups that “reflect the values of the startup’s culture,” says Volftsun.