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28 June 2012

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While I do agree that some of the stats about donor giving in the Millennial Report are misleading, I don't think nonprofits should be focusing on those figures as the biggest takeaway. What the report presents well is the habits of these young potential donors: their smartphone use, social media engagement, etc.

The stats and info around these habits are incredibly useful to nonprofits because it stresses the importance of updating your approach to fit well with new technology. Many nonprofits are stuck with text-heavy websites, outdated Facebook pages and inactive Twitter accounts (which in most cases is due to lack of time and resources). They shouldn't only be updating their approach because of the "stats" of how many Millennials donated in previous years, but instead because it the general trend with the internet. The world is moving towards a certain visual-heavy storytelling medium and it's critical that nonprofits try their best to stay with this trend.

I dislike the way you are always so down on young donors.
Just because someone isn't giving regular donations via a traditional direct debit doesn't make them any less of a support of a charity.
Should we not be looking at this and thinking woah a huge number of young donors believe giving to charity is a good thing, how do we tap into that, rather than trying to pick apart the survey data and belittle the contribution younger donors make to these charities.
Maybe the reason younger donors prefer giving to disaster relief is becuase they like seeing an instant result, rather than pouring money into cancer research each month.

You make some excellent points here. It's not about Millennials being generous or not - Canadians are a generous bunch at any age - it's about being too young to consistently commit to high levels of giving. Kids and homes come along, careers are being established, and giving comes and goes until you get into your more stable years.

After reading your post, we have some concerns about the report’s interpretation.

The statistic you mention about giving is from our research in 2011. This year’s report found that 75% of the 6,500 surveyed gave to nonprofit organizations. Regardless of the method, they are donors and supporters of nonprofit work.

2/3 of the report focuses on how Millennials connect and involve with nonprofit organizations. From communication, marketing, mobile, and social media – Millennials are taking different approaches to learn about causes and get involved. That is a primary message from the report.

Telling organizations to focus on those in their fifties and sixties, which you define as “younger” donors, is very concerning. That would mean we do not send any appeals or try to engage anyone till they have capacity to give when they are much older. Trying to develop relationships with individuals for the first time after they have had more than 30 years experience giving and volunteering to other organizations is very challenging.

Millennial engagement is not a strategy based on capacity of financial gifts. In each study and focus group that we have performed over the last three years, we continue to hear from Millennials that fundraisers need to move beyond just financial as a means for involvement. This is why fundraisers are in a tizzy; because they lack the ability or skill to engage Millennials beyond just asking for money.

As a follow-up, I would like to invite you to an online discussion with the research team to discuss how organizations should apply the findings.

Thank you for your clarity on this. Every young development officer needs to read this. And every CEO that thinks his fundraising worries are over if they just invest more in social media.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It's not about any technology, medium, or technique. It's about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It's already here. More.

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JeffJeff Brooks, creative director at TrueSense Marketing, has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 20 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you'll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff.brooks [at] truesense [dot] com. More.

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