Forty Under 40: Activism
BY Advocate.com Editors
May 05 2009 11:00 PM ET
Thai Pham | Philanthropist | 31 | New York City
A few years ago Thai Pham was ruminating over charitable giving, specifically how he and his friends could contribute to worthy causes even though they weren't pulling in six-figure salaries. Pham remembers thinking, I have a gym membership. I pay $50 a month and don't even notice. Can't I apply that model to philanthropy?
Thus was born the Quarter Share effort, a program that targets 20- and 30-somethings, people not typically active in philanthropy. Pham's idea wasn't completely out of left field: The New Yorker serves as director of events and communications for the Stonewall Foundation, a 20-year-old nonprofit that gifts millions to gay charities like the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the Human Rights Campaign. While the Stonewall Foundation is full of donors in their 40s and 50s, Pham knew there was an untapped market for younger people who could still give -- just less. Quarter Share members can donate as little as $25 a month, and the group's 150 members vote on where 25% of their proceeds go (the rest is directed to Stonewall-chosen charities, which are typically large LGBT organizations). Pham says his young do-gooders funnel money to new and emerging groups that can really benefit from a donation of $5,000 or $7,500. In Quarter Share's first two years the group raised almost $50,000 and filled the coffers of groups like Generation Q, a drop-in center serving the LGBT youths of Queens, and Queers for Economic Justice, which works to end poverty among gay people.