Chris Neil knows what it’s like to be thirty-something and busy.
While many people in their 20s and 30s juggling careers and young families may be too busy to think about how they can help local charities, that’s exactly the market Neil — the president and chief operating officer of the online marketing company Prospectics Inc. and a father of two — is trying to tap.
“The time from age 20 to 40 is a busy time,” said the 35-year-old co-chair of the United Way’s Next Generation Cabinet. “You’ve got people who are starting their careers, their families and buying their first houses. In modern times, we can get very disconnected from the community,” said Neil.
To add to the challenge of fundraising, there’s definitely a concern that philanthropy is not something of the new demographic, said Neil.
“The concern is that the core base of donors will retire and that base funding for charity will start dwindling away,” he said. “Unless we start now by engaging the demographic and raising awareness of what’s going on in the community, that’s going to be lost.”
On Wednesday night, Next Generation — which works to raise the profile of the United Way among the younger people — is hosting Schmoozefest at Lago Bar Grill View at Dow’s Lake, an event that will give people ages 20 to 40 a chance to network with community leaders and fundraise for the United Way’s community campaign at the same time.
The Next Generation also reaches out to younger audiences through social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and through unitedwayottawa.ca, where people can upload video messages about what they want their community to be.
Being involved with the United Way is rewarding, Neil said.
“I get to meet a lot of fantastic people that I wouldn’t meet normally. It pushes me into the community and has broadened my view on life.”