Newsmakers, December 17, 2015

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Coulee Region RSVP; Generational Giving

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  • Coulee Region RSVP

    A just-released national survey on volunteering has Wisconsin ranked third in the country in the percentage of residents who gave their time to others in 2014.

    The report from the Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for National & Community Service has only Utah and Idaho ahead of the Badger State. In recent years, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota have consistently been in the top 10 of states for volunteering, and 2014 is no exception.

    The survey said more than 1.5 million Wisconsin residents spent some time volunteering last year, 35.4 percent of people giving an estimated $3.4 billion of service. For Coulee Region RSVP Executive Director Lynetta Kopp, those statistics aren’t surprising.

    “It just solidifies what those of us who are in the business know, that in Wisconsin, if you ask, they will do it, and most of the time, you don’t even have to ask,” said Kopp. “It’s just indicative of Wisconsinites, and it’s very indicative of the Coulee Region area as well.”

    The Coulee Region RSVP helps link people 55 and older with volunteer opportunities in La Crosse and Monroe Counties. Volunteers are involved in a wide range of activities from tutoring and mentoring area elementary, middle and high school students, to giving people who can’t drive a ride to an appointment or shopping, to giving people a phone call to check on them. RSVP is in its 43rd year in La Crosse, and Kopp said the program has 1,200 registered volunteers who have a great impact on the non-profit agencies they volunteer for.

    “Just this past year, 2014, we had 547 volunteers that did a little over 98,000 volunteer hours,” she said. “If you equate that to an average Wisconsin wage of $22.50, (per hour) our volunteers gave back over $2.1 million to the community in community service.”

    Coulee Region RSVP is a project of the federal government and is associated with the Corporation for National and Community Service along with a number of other volunteer-related organizations. Kopp said 80 percent of RSVP’s budget comes from grants and donations, while the state and federal government provide 20 percent financial support.

  • Generational Giving

    Each generation has different views on life, and the way people of each generation contribute to charity, either with their time or money is as unique as what they bring to a job or family. There are big differences between groups like Baby Boomers and Millennials when it comes to what they will support and how.

    A study called The Next Generation of Giving produced by the organization blackbaud, which helps charities with generational fundraising, shows in general that the older one gets the more they are likely to contribute financially to a charity.

    The study shows Generation Y (age 18-32) are responsible for 11 percent of all giving in America, Baby Boomers (age 49-67) are responsible for 43 percent of all giving, by far the largest percentage of giving of the four adult generations. Matures (those over 68) are responsible for 26 percent of giving and Generation X (age 33-48) is responsible for 20 percent of the giving.

    Heather Quackenboss is program director at La Crosse Community Foundation which manages dozens of charitable funds that run a wide variety of programs that help people in the La Crosse area. Quackenboss said just because Baby Boomers represent a greater piece of the giving pie, she doesn’t believe one can assume Baby Boomers are necessarily more likely to donate money to charity.

    “It really depends on what you’re capable of,” she said. “Baby Boomers are making more money than the Millennials right now, that’s the way it’s historically been. They (Baby Boomers) have more expendable income. The Millennials have that time, they have that connection and they want that connection. That quality time is much more important than the monetary. The Millennials say ‘you haven’t fixed this problem, get out of the way and let me try.’”

    That’s Thea Peterson’s approach to giving. Peterson is a Viterbo University student who is the captain of Viterbo’s Love Your Melon chapter. For every hat the company sells, it donates a hat to a child who has cancer. Combining a retail business with charity is proving to be a successful business model and is attractive to Millennials including Thea Peterson.

    “I know for me, it’s more of a giving of time is way more important than giving money,” said Peterson. “I know that monetary giving is something that makes things happen as well, but I see a lot more, especially with my generation giving of what we can do with what we have. With my experience with Love Your Melon, the most rewarding times of giving is spending time with the children and giving them something money can’t buy, a smile, or those things that are littler, but they fill up a heart.”

    Peterson and other students at Viterbo were able to do a hat donation event in October at a local elementary school which Peterson said was rewarding, and service, which is one of the missions at Viterbo, is also a very personal mission for Peterson.

    “Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to change the world, I have no idea why, or how, or what I was going to do,” she said. “I see with my generation, going out and actually putting yourself in those (somebody else’s) shoes.”

    The Next Generation snapshot also shows the importance of the use of technology for charities to reach potential donors. Regardless of the adult generation, more than half are using some form of technology and usage increases substantially in younger generations.

Episode Credits

  • Hope Kirwan Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Lynnetta Kopp Guest
  • Thea Peterson Guest
  • Heather Quackenboss Guest

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