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Wash. U. student brings philanthropy to young adults

| Assignment Editor

When graduate student Jonathan Kaufman started a “giving circle” with his brother and several friends in 2007, he never expected it to grow beyond that. So when Kaufman found out that the venture, now titled the “One Percent Foundation,” won the student entrepreneur award at the Youthbridge Competition earlier this month, he saw opportunity for future expansion.

Now, three years after the foundation was started, it has 200 donors and has donated a total of $80,000 to a variety of charities.

According to Kaufman, a first year M.B.A. student and the director of the foundation, the $50,000 prize will be invested in marketing the foundation and in hiring a staff member. Until now, all members of the One Percent Foundation staff have been volunteers, some of whom are Washington University students.

Kaufman hopes that the Foundation will grow to 10,000 donors and $3,000,000 in total donations by 2013 with the help of this prize money.

The Foundation targets 18- to 39-year-olds, an age group that is, according to Kaufman, less likely to donate money to charity than older adults. These donors are encouraged to donate 1 percent of their annual income each year, hence the name “One Percent Foundation.” Students are encouraged to donate $75 each year.

“Everyone in that age group can participate in something like this. It is accessible, and it is easy,” Kaufman said.

According to Kaufman, young people are often interested in being involved citizens. They vote and volunteer.

“Philanthropy is usually the missing arm of that civic engagement,” Kaufman said. “None of these things mean much if we can’t back them with money.”

Young people are less likely to have a substantial amount of money to donate. The foundation enables these people to contribute to a major philanthropic effort.

“That is money that everyone can afford to give and that collectively has an incredible amount of power,” Kaufman said.

Students agree.

“I think it’s great,” freshman Jason Koo said. “Some students do not have an income so they shy away from donations. This gives the feeling that students are able to get involved.”

The foundation donates money to one non-profit charity each quarter. The sole requirement for the charities is that they be non-political and non-religious. All past donations have been made to charities that fall into the categories of education, environment, poverty, international aid and health.

All donors are given the opportunity to nominate charities to which they would like the money to be donated. A group of volunteers sifts through the suggestions and picks the top five. Donors are then allowed to vote for their preferred charity. The plurality winner of this vote then receives the quarter’s donations. Past recipients include Kiva and the Campus Kitchens Project.

“That is very impressive that they have collected so much money,” junior Anna Choe said. “When you think of how much they collect, it seems like so much more than just donating 75 dollars. It is a good idea.”

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