Deepening the Connection Through Community

Often times, when we talk about engaging in philanthropy we mean monetarily giving to a cause. While that’s a large portion of the discussion, there’s more to giving than that.

Younger givers are especially eager to find ways to connect on a deeper level with the causes and organizations they are passionate about. Giving money away is what our parents do, but we are young and hungry to make a difference. We want to be involved and connected with every part of our giving because we only have so much to give. Let’s make it count. We want more. That’s why we at DonorsTrust created a community for young givers: Novus Society.

Here are the four main ways Novus Society helps young philanthropists (including me) engage deeper with their giving:

1. The Perfect Giving Tool

Novus Society is a community for young givers, yes. Our primary program however, is a donor-advised fund (DAF). DAFs are the fastest growing charitable giving tool in the world and especially beneficial for young givers and older ones alike. We’ve written on this before, but they are tax-advantaged[bunching article peter’s] and make giving easy[gnomes piece]. With us, they can even be used to develop healthy financial habits. It’s also a tool that will grow with you and your giving needs.

2. Sharing Our Passion & Expertise

It’s not always considered an advantage of millennials, but for better or worse, we are somewhat collective creatures. We want to know what others think, what others are doing, and if others approve of what we think and are doing. We like feedback and input.

This rings true for trivial things like our clothing choices all the way up to the big decisions like if our friends approve of our choice in partner and the causes we support.

Within the Novus community, you find others like you with shared passions: young, driven professionals, families knitted with deeply held beliefs, and experts in their respective fields. It’s a place where you can bounce ideas off of truly worthy recipients and be challenged by shared principles that don’t always lead to the same physical solutions. You’ll be asked the right questions to help you suss out the right choice for you and your philanthropy to take. Iron will sharpen iron.

Being part of the Novus community gives you a sounding board, but also a support system of encouragement. Members will want to celebrate when a group or project you are involved with charitably has a big win.

Your passion may even spark others to want to join in or hear more about why it means so much to you. Your personal story matters to the community as a whole and makes it a richer, more robust space.

3. A Holistic Approach to Giving

Within the Society, we believe that philanthropy should touch all aspects of our life and can come in different forms of engagement: time, talent, and treasure.

Giving doesn’t have to end with a check or begin with one. Philanthropy also encompasses volunteering time – working with organizations on the front lines like serving in a soup kitchen or checking guests into a fundraiser banquet. Young people are ready to roll up their sleeves. They not only want to put their dollars to work; they want to see their dollars at work, firsthand.

But we also want members to share their talents. We have amazing people in our community with unique experiences, expertise, and ideas. We all benefit when we share that with each other. We frequently feature members to tell their stories and give the floor over to them when hosting (virtually, in 2020) happy hours or lunchtime talks.

4. Knowing Who You Support

Committing in such a way to philanthropy requires a lot of trust, so our Society does its part to make sure that the members are connecting with groups that can best help them achieve their goals. We invite our members to special events and even host our own where they can interact with possible grantees or ones they already work with in a more intimate and honest setting.

Going to galas and conferences is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not my main reason for going. I go so that I can put philanthropist and nonprofit together and hopefully they will make philanthropic magic!

Events are great places to get to know the real people that make a nonprofit what it is; the boots on the ground, so to speak. If it’s a place that does litigation – who are the lawyers? If it’s a place that partners with teachers for pro-liberty curriculum – who is writing the materials? If it’s a group working with legislators to pass necessary reforms – who are the staffers going to the hill every day? Knowing the actual people doing the work best allows for an appropriate assessment of whether or not the organization is worthy of your support. Getting to know them is also beneficial for them! They want to know what their donors, even younger ones, are thinking, what they want, and the issues most pressing in their minds.

As a Novus member and donor myself, I want to find the organizations working in the issue areas I care for most that are doing the best work. I want innovation and creativity. I also want a lean machine – one that is doing a lot with a little so that I can have the most impact with the dollars I have to give. “Bang for your buck” can sound like a cheap phrase, but really it’s just being smart, and that’s what young givers want to be.

With Novus, I don’t have to try to be smart on my own!

All in all, young philanthropists want to be part of something bigger. We want to see real change; the act of giving alone isn’t enough. As a community of young givers we are pushing towards change together, utilizing every tool in the box, including Novus Society.


  • Lydia Pitea

    Lydia Pitea is the Marketing and Events Manager at DonorsTrust. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating events for the Trust, digital marketing, and assisting with content creation and donor communications. Lydia joined DonorsTrust in 2016 as a participant in the Koch Associate Program. Previously, she worked for PSEG, the major utility company of New Jersey, with the Project Public Affairs team and the Customer Technologies team. Lydia is a graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey, where she received her B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Political Science. Lydia is an avid reader and traveler, an excellent petter of cats, and a believer in all things magical (and yes, that means unicorns).

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