3 New Young Philanthropic Groups Draw Hollywood Execs

Courtesy of the Hammer Museum
From left: Hammer Collective member Noora Raj Brown (Goop), co-founder Jessica Gersh Leff and guest Hilary Haldeman at an event celebrating the Hammer Projects series.

Chrysalis’ Kaleidoscope Giving Circle, The Hammer Museum’s Hammer Collective and Visionary Women U35 have launched in the last year in Los Angeles, drawing entertainment industry execs.

Hollywood execs tend to not be asked to join the boards of nonprofits until they are fairly high up the career ladder. They are usually expected to write a large personal check each year as a donation to the organization and bring their wealthy friends to the table as well. That’s a high bar to entry for anyone more junior in their career.

So, how can twentysomethings and thirtysomethings get involved with a charity in a substantive way that goes beyond regular volunteering? Join an associate board. Also called young patrons groups, these groups offer their next-gen members mentorship in philanthropic involvement, special events and other ways to make a difference, with lower costs to join. Three of the hottest associate boards have launched in the last year in Los Angeles, each drawing members from the entertainment industry. 

Chrysalis’ Kaleidoscope Giving Circle
The nonprofit — known for its Butterfly Ball fundraiser, founded by actress Rebecca Gayheart — started its associate board, Kaleidoscope, last year. The aim is to grow the ranks of its supporters, helping in its mission to give employment training and job search skills to men and women who are homeless or who have been formerly incarcerated.

“One of the things we’ve discovered is that as an organization that’s been around a long time, for 34 years, it’s not surprising that our board of directors and many of our supporters have grown up with our organization,” says Chrysalis CEO Mark Loranger. “We recognized that we need to make sure we are relevant to all the supporters in our community including folks who may be earlier in their careers or younger than our more traditional supporters.”

The group now numbers 13 members and fundraising events thrown by Kaleidoscope have included trivia nights, wine tastings and dinner parties. Alex Jones, who works in digital distribution at entertainment company A24, joined Kaleidoscope a couple months ago after hearing about the group from a friend who works at Chrysalis. “I was blown away by their work with homelessness and I wanted to become involved in my community and help tackle a problem,” says Jones.

Members, who also include Grace Oathout, an associate producer with Tripod Media, are required to either give or raise $500 to join. Says Loranger, “For our traditional board of directors, you have to write a large personal check, and that’s a huge barrier for many people. For us, this is a long-term play. It takes time for folks to be groomed and get ready for leadership positions like being on a board of directors. Some of these folks might become board members, others might become donors, but all of them are going to talk to their neighbors and families about the work that they do and that’s the bigger picture.”

The Hammer Museum’s Hammer Collective
In 2018, The Hammer Museum launched an invitation-only young patron group called the Hammer Collective, dedicated to supporting the arts institution’s Hammer Projects exhibition series. It is chaired by Jessica Gersh Leff and gallerist Hannah Hoffman and has already grown to 50 members. Founding executive committee members include Abby Pucker Pritzer, head of business development at entertainment company MWM; Aaron Bay-Schuck, CEO and co-chairman of Warner Bros. Records; former pro football player Keith Rivers; and Getty Research Institute senior project manager Annie Aberle.

“I feel like many of the people in our group will grow into lifelong supporters,” says co-chair Gersh Leff, who works in development at The Center for Early Education. “There’s been so much interest from young collectors. Getting them focused on a specific institution is great for the museum.”

Events to date have included special walk-throughs of Hammer Projects shows; touring the Hammer with select curators; studio visits with artists; and visiting private art collections. This fall, the group will tour the collection of Gersh Leff’s father, Gersh Agency co-president Bob Gersh. Dues for the founding membership are $1,500 a year; Gersh Leff says there are plans to raise them to $2,500 a year. One of the benefits of being a member, she says, is having the group become a sort of art-world sherpa: “It’s overwhelming to navigate all the galleries and exhibits in this city, and this is a great way to help a young collector navigate and focus in.”

Visionary Women U35
Just four years old, Visionary Women, a membership-supported nonprofit dedicated to advancing the status of women in all spheres of society, runs a popular salon speaker series and has given away $1.3 million to groups including Planned Parenthood, the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Time’s Up and Girls for the Last Girl. Last year, it launched U35 for the under-35 set, offering members mentoring in philanthropy and professional development, networking events and one salon talk a year. (Upcoming salon speakers include artist Judy Chicago, author Candace Bushnell and Gloria Steinem.) While regular memberships cost $1,000 or $5,000 a year, the cost to join U35 is just $200 annually. U35 membership, which is nearing 60, includes Heidi Ryan, an administrative assistant on Nextflix’s original animation business and legal affairs team.

“Everything is about building a community of women,” says Visionary Women president Shelley Reid, the head of business and corporate strategy at Green Pavilion Limited. Reid founded U35, she says, because “mentoring has always been top of mind for me and a passion of mine. The women in U35 volunteer and support all of the big events and they get together and have their own events. Recently they had a volunteer day down at Chrysalis.” Adds Reid, “It’s all about preparing the next generation. It’s helping young people who may not know what it’s like to be a part of a charitable organization. They are also getting the opportunity of being in front of a lot of professional people who are potential mentors for them.”