How Do You Get Millennials To Dig Deep? Throw a Party and Make it Local

What started as a way for 26-year-olds Brendan O’Connor and Ryan Ulbrich to rev up the local nightlife has turned into a successful philanthropic organization for a variety of Washington, D.C. charities. The pair of 26-year-olds threw their first fundraising party in June 2012 and has since raised $20,000 for community nonprofits by targeting fellow millennials.

“In order to create positive social change, which requires fresh ideas, this generation must be our focus,” Brendan O’Connor co-founder of nonprofit Raise Your City tells Yahoo! Shine. “We've found that millennials, especially in D.C., would like to enter the philanthropic world but are often times priced out of the fancy galas.” In contrast to extravagant fundraising fetes that require a ball gown and a pricey ticket, their group, called Raise Your City, hosts informal Saturday night parties (spinning DJs and cold beers included) for the millennial-friendly entry fee of $10 to $20.

“This generation wants everything to be community based and social in some way,” David Burstein, author of “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping This World” and founder of Generation 18, a youth civic engagement organization, tells Yahoo Shine. “They want to feel like they are part of a movement.”

This movement mentality recently helped Raise Your City crowdsource an additional $10,000 in funds. The organization’s first online fundraising campaign — funded almost entirely by individual donations — ends this Friday and has already surpassed its goal of $10,000. (That's in addition to the $20,000 they've raised through events and donated to local nonprofits, including StandUp For Kids, dedicated to ending youth homelessness; the Earth Conservation Corps, a group devoted to preserving the Anacostia River; and, DC Greens, an organization that connects communities to healthy, local foods through educational programs, including school gardens. According to O’Connor, the money raised will go directly into the organization itself to help expand its reach within the local community.

That local focus is starting to resonate more and more with millennials, says Burstein. “One of the symptoms of living in a totally global world is that Darfur becomes the same thing as our own backyard. When you look at the non-profit organizations millennials are starting, a lot of them are internationally or nationally focused” he says. “But it’s starting to become more popular to focus locally.”

DC Greens is one of the community organizations reaping the benefits of Raise Your City's efforts. “As as a nonprofit, we are constantly trying to fundraise and [Raise Your City] was saying, ‘Hey, we want to fundraise for you’ and tap into a new market, the millennials,” Sarah Bernardi, co-founder of DC Greens tells Yahoo Shine. To date, Raise Your City has donated more than $500 to DC Greens, but, according to Bernardi, the dollar amount is not as significant as who is donating. “The most important thing is that we're reaching out to a new population for us,” she says, noting that while millennials may not have the ability to donate in a big way now, they eventually will.