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Younger donors give differently - Part II

Updated: May 19

This is Part II of my three-part blog on why now is the time nonprofits should be strategizing on retaining their younger donors. Part I focused on how philanthropic younger donors are and their growing wealth capacity. Today I’m diving into how younger donors give and where they get their information.

How are younger donors giving?

I don’t think this will surprise anyone! Younger donors give through online mediums. The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s research concluded nearly 75 percent of Millennials give online when they donate.

Similar numbers show up in 2018 The Next Generation of American Giving by Blackbaud Institute, but drilled down more:

This information is also corroborated by the 2019 Burk Donor Survey which found the youngest donors are far less likely to give through direct mail appeals (22%) than in response to electronic appeals (58%) or social media campaigns (46%).

It’s not just giving online that appeals to younger donors, CAPTRUST had an interesting finding that Millennials are far more interested than any other generation to be interested in workplace giving, with 40% of them already having participated in a workplace fundraiser. Another interesting data point, the 2019 Burk Donor Survey found that young donors are not only interested in but joining sustainer programs in great numbers.

I’ve seen multiple cautions with this data and I feel it is important to highlight them: don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face cultivation with younger donors. The actual transaction is happening online or through the workplace, but the cultivation isn’t all digital. The Millennial Impact Report, a 10-year survey of more than 150,000 Millennials, found that Millennials make philanthropic decisions based on personal, not digital, connections (more on that next week). In other words, the transaction may be happening online, but the cultivation shouldn’t rely upon only digital engagement.

Where do younger donors get their information?


Donating isn’t the only thing younger donors do online, they are actively researching your organization online as well. According to 2018 The Next Generation of American Giving by Blackbaud Institute:

Younger donors are actively researching and giving through online channels. When they can’t find what they are looking for, know that you’re losing them.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance found the following pet peeves by Millennial donors:

· Trying to navigate non-mobile-friendly sites (76%)

· Discovering some information missing or not available (65%)

· Not being able to find the details they want – like contact information – quickly and easily (52%)

Takeaways from Part II:

Invest in your technological/digital infrastructure. Have an intuitive and professional website that allows people to donate easily and easily find your financial statements, impact reports and impact stories, board and leadership information, and contact information. The website should also share with visitors how they can volunteer or otherwise get involved with your organization (tours, events, etc.).


Ensure your website is mobile-friendly!

Leverage social media to your advantage. Actively use your social media to communicate your mission and impact and allow donors to give or find ways to volunteer through it.

Consider how you can engage your younger donors through their workplace by partnering with companies to allow for volunteer opportunities and workplace giving.


Next week: What's important to younger donors and tying all the takeaways together.

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