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NextGen leader redefining philanthropy

Chris Belmont joined Purposely Podcast to share his founder story with Youth Philanthropy New Zealand.

Originally from the US, he grew up in Queenstown, where he developed a passion for philanthropy. With some friends, and support from the Wakatipu Community Foundation, they established Youth Philanthropy NZ as well as Generation Give a programme focused on providing young people an education in positive philanthropy.

Originally modelled after successful Youth Philanthropy programmes in North America and Europe, Generation Give has evolved to serve a uniquely Kiwi audience since 2019. The programme appoints high school students to a simulated non-profit board, and over the course of 20 weeks, they are guided through essential skills required in the philanthropic process. At the end of the programme, Generation Give students will apply these learned skills in the process of giving at least $10,000 away to worthy causes of their choice in their community

How did Youth Philanthropy and Generation Give get started?

‘It all begin with this one after school program at high school where we brought 20 students together to cover 20 topics over 20 weeks. They were guided through essential skills required in the philanthropic process. They became qualified to make philanthropic decisions on behalf of the community around them. We actually ended up raising $10,000 and we said give it away to wherever you want’

How much have you raised and donated?

‘We've facilitated giving over $40,000 in the last in the last two years of the program, but what I always like to say is that's actually only 5% of our impact, or even less! The majority of our impact comes from the students we educate….these young people become philanthropists and they have a positive impact on their communities. Positive impact that they're going to have for the rest of their lives and what we've done essentially is jump started their philanthropic careers, that's our goal from this programme’

Tell us about your past and what motivated you to get involved in Philanthropy?

‘I'm from the States originally and some would say that modern philanthropy comes from comes from the United States. Obviously, New Zealand has a fantastic spin on a lot of stuff that the US does, but there's still some lessons to be learned from from how the US operates. Anyway, wherever we moved my mum always started a Community Foundation and for that reason alone I was always involved with charities and from a very young age.’

So moving to New Zealand, how did that come into focus and why Queenstown?

‘My Dad has worked in New Zealand for the past nine or so years and we all moved to New Zealand seven years ago to be together as a family and have an adventure. In terms of Queenstown… we went skiing in Queenstown and as crazy as it sounds we hadn't bought return tickets, we had literally spent all our money and ended up staying in Queenstown. I was enrolled in school and we haven't left since’

You’re an American living in New Zealand, why do you think Americans cherish philanthropy it so much?

‘That's a good question. I left America when I was 13 years old so I wasn't exactly the biggest giver. I was more focused on Star Wars and girls when I when I left America but my parents and my family were always been big givers. In America there's a lot of things that people are confronted with… there's alot of things wrong that people see on a daily basis and as a human being you just want to do something about it. So hopefully what we're doing is we're exposing young people earlier to things that they can get to where they can have a positive impact.’

What makes Generation Give unique?

‘There's a lot of charities that are focused on young people and it's fantastic. We're obviously focused on young people as well. But I feel like our model is different enough to make us stand out in the sector. Mainly Because it's shaped and owned by the students that take part and that separates us from the rest.’

You can find out more about YPNZ and Generation Give here


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