By Saba Long
Here is a Georgia statistic we can be proud of. The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes the state ranks sixth nationally in charitable giving, with $4.8 billion in total contributions, averaging 6.2 percent of total income given.
As Georgians aged from 20 years to 44 years make up more than 35 percent of the total population, and those under 20 year nearly 29 percent, not-for-profit organizations are actively recruiting younger donors and finding creative ways to tap into their discretionary spending. For the United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA), their affinity group Young Professional Leaders (YPL) aims to do just that.
Susan Bell, UWGA board chair and Atlanta managing partner at Ernst & Young, notes, “Our United Way Young Professional Leaders have energy and passion for giving back that is contagious. They are using their diverse talents to ‘Live United’ for Greater Atlanta through their giving, advocating and volunteering. And importantly, they’re having fun doing it.”
This past Saturday, over 150 YPL members volunteered for a HoliDay of Service benefiting Easter Seals of North Georgia, The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots.
Newlyweds and YPL members Keshia and David Vaughn sorted toys at the Toys for Tots Norcross warehouse. A senior manager at Deloitte, Keshia comments her involvement stems from a desire to “make an impact” and her “heart for the community.”
How many times have you walked past The Salvation Army bell ringers because you were too busy to stop and slip a dollar in the slot? Some of the city’s brightest young professionals, including a number from Ernst & Young, braved the cold at supermarkets and other high traffic areas to serve as bell ringers.
Others created Angel Tree gift bags for metro families at The Salvation Army’s warehouse in southwest Atlanta. The aisles filled with tall bags stuffed with clothing, books, toys and general items of necessities all have a note with the names and ages of the recipients taped on the shelves. This year, the Angel Tree program will reach 12,000 metro children and seniors including some in Paulding County.
“The day-to-day life of individuals [and] families in need is often very different from the day-to-day routine of our members,” notes YPL board member Katerina Taylor.
As director of membership for the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Taylor’s passion for service and desire to impact the metro region is clear through her role in steering the YPL program. “Beyond the financial investment in the community that is required to become a YPL member, we want to help young professionals find their philanthropic passion and YPL serves as a navigator within the Greater Atlanta non-profit network,” she remarks.
United Way of Greater Atlanta’s board chair Bell notes YPL’s impact on the organization: “We are so proud to have Katerina Taylor, the current leader of YPL representing all these fabulous YPLers on the board of UWGA. She is super engaged in support of our goals and brings fresh insights and great ideas representing this important generation of new leaders.”