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February 18, 2015

Generational Differences in Giving: Engaging Millennials

Generational Differences in Giving:
Engaging Millennials


They may not be at the top of your list of prospects in terms of financial capacity right now, but millennials have the potential to become some of your organization’s most committed supporters.


According to a recent Harris Poll titled “Money? Time? Blood? What are Americans Giving?”, approximately half of millennials said they believe people have a personal responsibility to make the world a better place. In other words, they are already eager to engage with causes that they see as important. (The Wall Street Journal published an infographic that breaks down the all data, which you can access here.)


Combine this with the fact that 79 percent of millennials say their chief motivation for getting involved is because they are passionate about the cause. With the right strategy, these individuals could become committed, lifelong donors—and isn’t that an investment worth making?


A Difference in Perspectives


The shift from philanthropic giving to philanthropic investing is even more pronounced with this generation. Millennials don’t want to donate, nor do they want to engage with an institution alone. Instead, millennials want to invest in a cause that they believe in. It’s critical that we demonstrate to them how they can invest through our organizations to make a difference in ways that are meaningful to them.


Once engaged, this highly motivated generation presents tremendous opportunity to become lifelong donors who, as they continue to accumulate wealth, increase the size and frequency of their contributions.


Engage First, Solicit Later


With millennial donors especially, it is critical that development professionals engage them in the institution before asking for a contribution. This addresses their sense of personal social responsibility and allows them to make a difference actively. (Knowing that millennials tend to view their time, money, and assets as having equal value, board and volunteer positions are a great choice.) You’ll help them deepen their commitment to the organization and create the opportunity for more meaningful philanthropic contributions as you continue to engage them.


Most importantly, create a Return on Philanthropic Investment by showing millennials the impact their contributions make toward the cause they care about. This helps fulfill their personal social responsibility to make the world a better place.


Whatever donor development strategy you choose to use with millennial donors, make sure that you remember the platinum rule:


Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.


As you think about ways to engage your current millennial donors and future potential donors, what are you doing to make that experience as meaningful as possible?


Millennials were born 1981–2002; Other generations include the Silent Generation (1925–1945), baby boomers (1946–1962), and Generation X (1963–1980). (from Generations: The Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit by Peter C. Brinckerhoff)



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