Bringing the Noise
YouthNoise is an online, youth-based social network that aims to bring young people ages 16 to 22 together to form a network for social change. Its unique mission, as it appears on its Web site at www.YouthNoise.com, is “to inspire and empower young people everywhere to catapult their passion and idealism into movements to sustain the planet.”
The site was launched in 2001 as a program of Save the Children, an international children’s relief organization, as a kids-for-kids effort that focused on how young people in the United States could get involved in Save the Children’s humanitarian-aid efforts around the globe, says Ginger Thomson, who began her relationship with YouthNoise as a member of its advisory board and is now CEO. In 2004, YouthNoise became independent of Save the Children. The Web site, with content generated by and for young people, has registered more than 113,000 youths from the United States and more than 170 other countries and sees an average of 500,000 visitors every month. Here, Thomson talks about the funding sources for YouthNoise, the work it does and the fundraising challenges when dealing with a youthful constituency.
FundRaising Success: Where do you get funding?
Ginger Thomson: The primary source of our funds has been foundations. We also have a small and very invested group of individual donors.
FS: What fundraising challenges does your constituency pose?
GT: In terms of targeting that group, they do not perceive themselves as having funds to give away. So while they’re spending a good deal of money on themselves, they don’t think of their money as money that’s disposable towards charitable organizations. And YouthNoise serves youth. It doesn’t serve hungry children or sick children specifically. We really serve young people who are an intermediary between the causes and issues that young people care about and themselves. So they might give a contribution to a relief effort, but they don’t see YouthNoise as the place they would necessarily give a contribution because we’re an infrastructure for them. They see us as a service, but not as a charity. I think that’s challenging.