Passion Sparks “Pop-up Philanthropy”

By Eden Youngberg

Have you ever seen something that you just couldn’t stop talking about because it touched you in some way or another? More than that, have you ever seen something and thought, “Wow, if this affected me this way, just think of whom else this could impact!”

An article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showcases a prime example of a situation like this that occurred in New York City, when a wealthy African American business owner by the name of William Lewis Jr., co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard, went to see the movie Selma and decided that every New York City eighth grader should also see Selma.


From that moment on, Lewis was proactive, pitching the idea to prominent business men and raising $40,000 that night.

Needless to say, 75,000 students were able to see Selma for free. The idea spiraled and over 11,250 tickets were purchased at nine different theaters for student’s in Washington D.C. and Chicago.

The take away? Big ideas can happen over night, and even more importantly, those ideas can be implemented and impactful.

The fundraising effort for this project relied on a network of mostly African-American civic leaders to spread the word in less than a week the article explained.

What makes “pop-up philanthropy” successful?

  1. Spontaneity. People were so inspired that they pledged money before setting up a nonprofit or even considering tax deduction.
  2. Pro-activism. People acted instantly.
  3. Short term commitment. The beauty of “pop-up philanthropy” is that you have an idea, you implement the idea, people are impacted and it’s over. The deed has been done with no long term responsibilities tacked on.

Let this inspire you to act instantly on your philanthropic ideas. Not everything has to be planned from start to finish over a period of time.

Eden Youngberg is a senior Journalism and Mass Communications major pursuing certificates in Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship. She is involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and is currently working as a fundraising intern at AMPERAGE Marketing. She hopes to be involved in nonprofits after graduation in May.


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