Millennials in Manatee make a difference during Giving Challenge

The Giving Challenge 2016 was a big success for so many great local organizations that serve Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Desoto counties. The challenge broke the 2015 record of over $7 million by almost doubling it with a grand total of $13,386,909. That’s a lot of donations and dough.

One new opportunity to make some extra money for organizations this year was created by the Manatee Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The challenge was called the Manatee Millennial Challenge and it encouraged nonprofits to have a millennial take charge their campaigns and give them a leadership role.

A group came together to look over how these organizations did their campaigns and how well the millennial leaders led. In the end nine nonprofits serving Manatee County received grants that totaled $20,000.  The winners included UnidosNow and PACE Center for Girls ($5,000 grants); Easter Seals Southwest Florida and Literacy Council of Manatee ($2,500 grants); Forget-Me-Not, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Manatee County Agricultural Museum, Realize Bradenton, and The Mark Wandall Foundation ($1,000 grants).

The two millennial leaders who brought in $5,000 to their nonprofits were Juan Arcila with UnidosNow and Amy Phillips with PACE Center for Girls. We reached out to find out how they went about their campaigns, what they learned and what they hope people will realize about how much millennials can help impact nonprofits for the better.



Juan Arcila, 23

How long have you been involved with UnidosNow? I started in July, 2016

How did you end up getting put in charge for UnidosNow’s campaign? One of my friends that volunteers for them told me about the Giving Challenge. I then reached out to the director and volunteered to take the lead of the campaign.

What exactly did you do to connect with millennials during this campaign? I started a Facebook campaign with Millennials making  short videos promoting the Giving Challenge and spreading awareness of UnidosNow, and  how non-profits and community based organizations has helped us achieve our academic and career goals. I also connected with youth groups and other Millennials by volunteering with them. I joined community service clubs from local colleges in their service projects at food banks and homeless shelters. During this experience, I was able to network with other Millennial leaders, talk about our passions for community service, brainstorm ideas for future collaboration initiatives, and share with them the success stories from UnidosNow and how they can partner with us and expand our impact in the community.

What did you learn that worked and that didn’t work?

I learned that young people support causes that are transparent and which their friends are passionate about. Using social media is absolutely essential to engage young people, and the more personable the message, the more impactful it will be.

How will the money be spent? Through these funds, we are able to sponsor more students in our programs and expand our services to other communities and low-income families that are in need of our services.

What do you hope people realize about millennials involved in nonprofits?

I hope they realize we are just as passionate and charitable as any other generation. Millennials have a reputation of being self-absorbed and indifferent to volunteering. In reality, we want to share our gifts and despite what society thinks of us, to actually contribute to a cause bigger than ourselves.

Anything else you learned or want to add?

Personally, I have never felt more fulfilled in my life as I did volunteering during this challenge. I have donated before to charity, lent a hand from time to time at a park and food pantry, but taking on the responsibility of leading the Millennial challenge and actually sharing my talents and passion for a cause that connects with me on such a personal level has empowered me in ways that I would have never expected. To be able to experience firsthand the amazing impact UnidosNow has on its students and families in the community has inspired me to continue to volunteer with them and share my experience with other young people; who are seeking the same opportunity to make a difference, but don’t know exactly how to find it.



Amy Phillips, 32

How long have you been involved with PACE?: I’ve been involved with PACE for 3 years but on the board of directors a year.

How did you end up getting put in charge for PACE’s campaign?: I stay in close contact with what is going in the community, especially when it comes to millennials as I am very involved in that effort in Manatee County. I found out about the millennial Challenge that Knight Foundation was doing for the Giving Challenge and I told the board I wanted to submit and do this on behalf of PACE Center of Manatee County.

What exactly did you do to connect with millennials during this campaign? I used the social media platforms in order to reach new millennial donors and spread brand awareness about PACE.

What did you learn that worked and that didn’t work? One thing I learned is that you can only control the data that you post versus what others post. For example, tagging and making sure people use the right hashtags etc. is a learning curve for some so it made it hard to track at times

How will the money be spent? The money will be spent on the expenses of the girls at the school.

What do you hope people realize about millennials involved in nonprofits? That even though we may not be as seasoned, with the right heart, connections, and motives, we can accomplish things and bring great ideas.

Anything else you learned or want to add? I was very honored to have the boards and the community’s support. If it wasn’t for them, the challenge would not have worked period.


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