Last night, young professionals from such diverse fields as finance, law, media, art, and philanthropy gathered at Anastasia Photo for cocktails and a cause: saving the lives of children.
Organized by UNICEF’s Next Generation, the event featured speaker and Chairwoman Jenna Bush Hager, who outlined the group’s history and mission for the crowd packing the Lower East Side Gallery, which displayed a moving exhibition of international documentary photography.
“Today, 21,000 children died around the world from preventable causes,” the former First Daughter declared. “All of us come from different backgrounds, we all have totally different jobs, but we all come together with the belief that every child should have a chance to live a healthy life…We hope that you will join us in our mission.”
Recruitment and education were the primary goals of the evening, as members with clipboards circulated among the guests and discussed the different ways newcomers could become involved. Like planning fundraisers and parties? There's a committee for that. Or is social media more your thing? Even a well-meaning "tweet" can save a life!
Comprised of professionals ages 21 to 40, UNICEF’s Next Generation plays a vital role in the future of philanthropy by making charitable causes more accessible to the post-college set (UNICEF’s Snowflake Ball is at least $2500, but a ticket to Next Gen’s Masquerade Ball? An affordable $150).
Through events like the Masquerade Ball and their Spring Photography Exhibition, Next Gen has raised over 1.5 million dollars since its inception three years ago. But more importantly, Next Gen is making the field of philanthropy, well, fashionable for young people, who are using their social networks to educate friends and raise money for a worthy cause. Committee member Caroline Polisi echoed this sentiment: “Educating yourself is the first and foremost way to make a difference. Tap into your own social network to fundraise and get people involved.”
As Jenna Bush Hager concluded: “I’ve worked in the field…I saw every single day what [UNICEF does] to save lives. What we can do here is help raise money for UNICEF, so they can continue their lifesaving work.”
Afterward, guests discussed the presentation while sipping white wine and admiring photography by artists such as G.M.B. Akash and George Steinmetz. At the event’s conclusion, suited and high-heeled philanthropists wrapped the remaining hors d’oeuvres and walked them over to the nearby Bowery Mission, demonstrating that, whether you’re volunteering in Africa or just down the street, even a small contribution can make a big difference.