August 30, 2017

Young Philanthropist Creates Opportunity For Millennials to Make a Difference

Volunteering is second nature to Jeremy Perlman. The 28-year-old grew up watching his father and grandfather serve on the boards of local nonprofit organizations. He recalls, as a child, going with his sister to interact with residents at the Greenwood House senior living facility in Ewing, and helping out at other places as well.

So it makes sense that Mr. Perlman, who grew up in Lawrenceville and Princeton, wants to make a difference in his community. Focusing on fellow millennials, he recently organized the NextGen Giving Circle at the Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF), an organization he knows well through his family’s participation over the years.

“I came back to this community a few years ago to work in the family business {Borden Perlman Insurance}, and right away I wanted to get involved and work in leadership roles,” Mr. Perlman said. “A giving circle seemed like a great fit.”

Giving circles have become popular among organizations like PACF. Through them, donors contribute to a single fund, and then select together which nonprofits will receive grants from that fund. The members learn about causes in the region and visit them before deciding which to help. They can make an annual gift or contribute $100 monthly.

Accustomed to services such as Netflix and Spotify, young people in Mr. Perlman’s age group can relate to the subscription model. “I go to a lot of networking events and social
opportunities for young professionals,” Mr. Perlman said. “I felt they were a little lacking in that they were a lot of small talk but not really rolling up their sleeves and accomplishing things together and making an impact on their community. There are opportunities to maybe volunteer for a day, or an event, but that doesn’t require the same level of engagement in an organization. Someone had told me about a giving circle, and a light bulb went off in my head.”

Giving circles offer a more focused opportunity to help. “Members can have an impact on their community, and it also helps them become leaders and board members if they might not otherwise know how to go about it,” Mr. Perlman continued. “Do you just go to a food pantry and volunteer for awhile and hope someone asks you to serve on the board? It’s hard to know how to do it, and everyone is trying to juggle so much — career, family, and personal lives. So volunteering and philanthropy can be easily forgotten.”

A graduate of The Lawrenceville School and the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Perlman is an account executive at Borden Perlman Insurance. He sits on the boards of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, the Trenton Circus Squad, and University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel. Mr. Perlman’s father, Jeffrey Perlman, is a former trustee of PACF.

Because he was familiar with PACF, Mr. Perlman turned to the organization when the idea for a giving circle began to take shape. “I was trying to figure out how to make this a reality,” he said. “I talked to PACF to see what they knew about the giving circle world. I met with the executive director and learned about their Fund for Women and Girls, which is a giving circle. They already have all the administration in place and back-end support to be able to do it.”

Founding members of the NextGen Giving Circle come from several firms including J.P. Morgan, Klatzkin & Company, Morgan Stanley, MassMutual, Optimal Portfolio, Intelligent Office Princeton, The Peacock Inn, Fox Rothschild, and Stark & Stark, among others. Anyone can join, but most members are in the 20- to 40-year-old age range.

“It’s about giving back,” Mr. Perlman said. “It’s an opportunity to make a difference in the community.”