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Inspiring Conversations with Sarah Hartono of Generous Generation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Hartono.

During Sarah’s freshman year of college in 2018, there was an earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Indonesia, near her mom’s hometown. Thousands were displaced from their homes with limited resources for rebuilding. She wanted to help, but on a limited college budget and over 8,000 miles away, she wasn’t sure how. Sarah put her design chops to use by designing stickers and selling them to friends both old and new.

Promoting these sticker campaigns on her social media outlets, Sarah encouraged audiences to choose however much they wanted to pay for a sticker. She really believed that since her heart broke for the cause, others would too. Applying brokenness to action, Sarah was motivated to reach communities and take generosity a step further. Though scrappy and with a quick turnaround, all the stickers sold out and raised over $500 in just 24 hours. 100% of profits were donated directly to Samaritan’s Purse to provide natural disaster relief in Indonesia. Since then, five other sticker campaigns were run, collectively raising over a few thousand dollars, supporting other initiatives such as basic needs, job training for those experiencing homelessness, and providing meals for low-income families. During Summer 2020, this project went through Praxis Academy’s Entrepreneurship Venture track to develop its strategic vision and mission, received a scholarship, and became Generous Generation. In Fall 2020, Generous Generation (GenGen) officially launched. GenGen’s current Spring Campaign 2021 is to support OpenMeal, a nonprofit organization allowing those in need to order food from family-owned restaurants with money funded by generous donors. We’re coming together to support Asian-owned restaurants and female Asian artists through a Lunar New Year campaign, running Feb 1 – 28.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Definitely not a smooth road! I’m grateful for it because it builds character! I’m (Sarah) still a 3rd year in university, so balancing a bootstrapped idea with a full course load and part-time jobs is a struggle. I’ve been learning how to incorporate rest rhythms not only for myself but for our team as well. For example, we don’t Slack on Sundays and are instead encouraged to spend time in nature, praying/meditating, and reading Scripture. On the GenGen end of things, we struggled with our model since it’s pretty unique. Since people get to choose from the heart how much they want to give for a sticker, we needed to break a lot of nonprofit industry standards such as suggested donation amounts and recurring donations. Additionally, it requires a lot of trust! Allowing people to choose what they want to donate and still give them a physical product means we need a strong brand and a committed community to cover campaign costs. We’ve been very intentional with that since Day 1 – on launch day in November 2020, we asked our existing base (aka Sarah’s friends) to post the stickers they had received from our beta campaigns on their Instagram stories. The symbolism here is that we are starting GenGen WITH our community instead of just throwing it at them. It was a huge success in creating buzz in our social circles and helped people feel invested in GenGen, together.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Generous Generation?
Generous Generation makes generosity accessible through stickers using our choose what you give GenGen Model. We believe that this is possible because when we give, the heart is more important than the dollar amount – a broke college student genuinely giving $5, from the heart, to help communities in need is so valued! No amount is too small. We incorporate the idea of stickers because of our Gen Z target audience. We (Gen Z) LOVE stickers and they give us incentive to give – we believe that generosity is a muscle. When we are younger, we need reminders to give. Our vision is that these stickers will be that reminder and eventually, as we grow older and gain more stable incomes, we’ll be able to give from the heart, sticker or not. We also want to expand generosity past its financial definition. We can be generous with our time and skills too! So far, we’ve been able to do this two ways. One, artists can volunteer to design stickers. Two young professionals and students honing their craft can volunteer to put together our sticker campaigns! Our team right now is made up of content creators, storytellers, photographers, creative directors, and more. Everyone has a skill to contribute. For now, both groups can contact us on our website to get involved and be generous. If you’d like to support our current campaign with OpenMeal to provide meals for those in need AND restaurants struggling due to COVID-19, please visit our website or Instagram. There are some cute stickers for you to check out and they are only available until February 28th! Once they are gone, they’re gone!

What are your plans for the future?
There’s a lot that we’re keeping in secret for now as we prototype everything (one of our core values!). One thing we will share is that we’re looking to diversify our team and our artists! We work in cohorts and a by-campaign basis. Just as we at GenGen prototype everything, our team and artists get to prototype working with us as well. We’re very open to meeting new people to get involved and be genuinely generous for the community! We’re also working with our advisory board on a better defined selection criteria for the nonprofits we support. We want to make sure that the money we raise is used wisely to maximize its potential and ensure it’s going to transparent and accountable nonprofits.

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