Who's That Gal: Jesse Hatfield, The Philanthropy Connection

Name: Jesse Hatfield
Age: 28
Occupation: Fundraising & Communications
Hometown: Hingham, MA
Current Hood: Downtown/Chinatown

You seem like you are extremely busy and involved with so many wonderful organizations, but today we want to talk about The Philanthropy Connection (TPC). Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got involved with the TPC and what your role is as a Young Philanthropist Fellow?

I was first introduced to The Philanthropy Connection (TPC) in 2013 while volunteering for one of its first grantees, Silver Lining Mentoring. The Director of Development at Silver Lining recommended I apply to be a Young Philanthropist Fellow (YPF) – which I am so grateful for – and I was selected to be part of the 2014-2016 “class."

Each year, TPC provides five fellowships to women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are interested in becoming part of the women’s collective giving movement and who are motivated to donate their time and talents in an effort to improve the lives of others. TPC members and sponsors cover the membership fee for each young woman who receives a fellowship. As a YPF you are expected to join a Grant Review Team and serve on one additional committee. This year, I am the captain of a Grant Review Team, and also serve on the Marketing and Communications and Strategic Planning committees.

Generally when a lot of people think of philanthropists they think of old, rich people. Why do you think it is so important to change that perception and get more young people involved in contributing to their communities?

The face of philanthropy has changed significantly in the last decade, which I personally believe is for the best. Young people, in addition to giving their money to causes they are passionate about, want to donate their skills and time – to get involved in a really meaningful way. Young people, for the most part, are not just writing checks to nonprofits. They want to have a bigger impact than just their money. I think this type of deep involvement in the nonprofits will only make them more innovative and able to tackle really big issues.

TPC is a female-only organization. Why is that and what makes women unique when it comes to philanthropy?

We are 100% committed to fostering the next generation of women philanthropists. It is an all-female organization because we believe that women are unique philanthropists and tend to make different decisions than men when it comes to philanthropy. We often donate more and to different causes than men, and take a more active role in the operations of an organization in order to see the impact of our giving. 

How is our generation shaping up in terms of contribution? Do we have a bright future (please say yes)?

If TPC’s young philanthropists are any indication, the future if very bright!

So, how can a young woman who is still trying to establish her financial grounding, but wants to become a more charitable person, get involved in TPC?

I would recommend to any young woman who is interested in dedicating her time to learning more about philanthropy and the nonprofit community in Boston to apply to be a Young Philanthropist Fellow. The application process – which includes a written application and an in-person interview – opens in the spring, so stay tuned!

What about someone who fears they don’t have enough time?

The great thing about TPC is that each member decides for herself how involved she would like to be. Some members choose only to write a check and vote for that year’s grant recipients. Others choose to become deeply involved in committee work – evaluating grants, planning our member education events, or supporting membership and outreach efforts.

Boston has so many wonderful non-profit organizations so I’m sure you get a LOT of grant applications. What is the process like for granting an organization a financial donation?

Our grant process is extremely thoughtful and has evolved over the last three years. TPC is cognizant of not being too burdensome on applicants - which as a fundraising professional, I wholeheartedly support and appreciate. The grant process lasts from October through June, during which time Grant Review Teams review letters of intent and full proposals and conduct in-person site visits with the nonprofits. Then all members have the opportunity to vote on which organizations they would like to receive a grant. This year, TPC will award $230,000 in grants – four $20,000 grants to emerging organizations (2-7 years old with an annual operating budget of $100,000 to $2 million) and five $30,000 grants to mid-stage organizations (8-30 years old with an annual operating budget of $100,000 to $2 million).

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a member of the TPC?

For me, the best part of being a Young Philanthropist Fellow and a member of TPC has been making meaningful connections with incredibly smart, dedicated, and generous women. I have also really enjoyed participating in the grant review process and learning how to be a better, more thoughtful philanthropist.

And lastly, what’s next for TPC and the Young Philanthropists? Any events we should be aware of?

Yes – please save the date! On Saturday, April 2, TPC will host its first Young Philanthropist Conference on Building the Next Generation of Women Philanthropist. This event will be the first of its kind in Boston, bringing together young women who are interested in learning more about philanthropy and the philanthropic landscape in Boston from seasoned experts. I’m really excited about the session called “Rules of Engagement: Going from a Volunteer in the Field to an Advisor on the Board”! Check out our Eventbrite page to learn more and sign up to attend! 


Best winter hangout in Boston: My couch :)
Next on your to-do list: Plan a tropical getaway!
Currently watching: Modern Family – I can’t get enough.
Currently reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - a must read!