“As a kid in New York City, we’d walk past homeless people in Skid Row. No matter how much my mom would caution me about giving all my money away, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been a giver for most of my life,” Ridgel says. “As an adult, I found that despite my own proclivity to actively give back, getting others to do so has been somewhat of a challenge. In the meantime, I also love to have fun. A trip to Croatia in 2014 sparked the idea to combine the fun with philanthropy and FUNlanthropy was born.”
Each year, on the islands of Croatia, anywhere from 60 to 80 yachts dock in the open waters around the country. For seven days nonstop, there are planned parties and events for the visitors—there are yacht parties, beach parties, club parties, day parties, etc. “In talking with the natives of Croatia, we found out that many of the Croatians had a negative perspective of the revelers who come in and trash the islands during their parties,” Jason explained. “That year, we decided to do something about it. We put out a suggestion to the fellow revelers to give back and visit a school. The response we got blew us away.” More than 60 percent of partygoers agreed. Seeing all those people from all over the world willing to come together to take a pause from non-stop partying to give back for one day made an impact on Ridgel. Funlanthropy has become an intentional part of his life ever since.
Jason trademarked “Funlanthropy” in 2016 as a way to create a platform to engage his friends near and far into embracing his own approach to philanthropy—big impact, big service, but also big fun. “Funlanthropy was something I was already doing,” Ridgel said. “Funlanthropy differs from the traditional idea of philanthropy in that we put as much emphasis on the having fun as we do on the giving. Some people only know how to do one or the other at a time. We figured out how to do both.” Jason’s preferred charities include the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based A Pocket Full of Hope, Individuals Providing A Positive Presence (IPPP), and Upendo Women’s Foundation in Kenya.
UPENDO WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
Upendo Women’s Foundation helps girls in Africa access sustainable feminine hygiene products. Upendo Women’s Foundation is run by Njeri Thubei, a native of Kenya. In 2015 and 2016, Jason partnered with IPPP (Individuals Providing A Positive Presence) and the Upendo Women’s Foundation to help girls in Africa access sustainable feminine hygiene products.