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Young Professionals’ Giving Circle Membership Soars

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By ALLISON BOURG
The Capital of Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — About two years ago, two young professionals were chatting about how they wanted to see more of their peers involved in philanthropy.

Problem was, there was no dedicated avenue for them to do that.

“We wanted to have an opportunity for everybody to give, and to do it in a way that addressed the needs of the community,” said Bess Langbein, executive director of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County.

So she and Hall Chaney, chief operating officer of Chaney Enterprises, decided to form the Next Generation of Anne Arundel County giving circle.

Members generally range in age from 25 to 40, and everyone donates $20 each month. At the end of the year, Next Generation donates $5,000 to a local nonprofit.

Last year, the $5,000 went to Anne Arundel County Court Appointed Special Advocates, a group that represents children whose parents are at the center of legal disputes.

And it was fitting that the Community Foundation would spearhead such a group. The Annapolis-based group manages donations from people, businesses and other groups, and then takes that money and awards grants to different nonprofits.

“The Community Foundation is a large giving circle,” Langbein said.

But the 32-year-old Langbein, who’s been with the Community Foundation for about five years, said it made sense to form a group within a group.

“The idea was to come together as young professionals and pool our resources to do some good,” she said.

In just about two years’ time, the number of members in NextGeneration has gone from 22 to 45, Langbein said.

“It’s really got momentum,” she said. “It’s got legs.”

There are probably a few reasons why.

“Many people want to give back to the community – they see their parents doing it, and they know they’re going to have to do it in the future,” Langbein said. “It’s also good for their networks, their businesses and their social networks.”

Also, younger people are becoming more aware of the needs of their community.

“I think people are seeing that there’s an increase in poverty, and they want to get involved,” she said.

Next Generation also makes it easy to donate. Members can sign up through the Community Foundation’s website and opt to have their bank accounts directly debited each month.

John Rosso, vice president of Murphy Commercial Real Estate, compared the $20 monthly donation to the cost of going out to happy hour once a month.

It’s more than worth it, the 25-year-old said.

Now a member of the board, Rosso learned of the organization through a friend of a friend.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to get involved with some of the nonprofit organizations in the community,” he said. “It’s kind of a means to bring a group of young professionals together to help out some nonprofits that might be under the radar.”

Plus, it’s a good way to meet new people.

“Most of the members are leaders in their industries,” Rosso said. “It’s just a great opportunity to meet people who are like-minded and who want to give back to their community.”

Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://www.hometownannapolis.com/

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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