Another widely misinterpreted study has some in the fundraising community in a tizzy. This time it's the Millennial Impact Report, which headiness the following factoid:
93% of surveyed Millennials gave to nonprofit organizations in 2010
A more accurate way of saying that would be:
93% of surveyed Millennials said they gave to nonprofit organizations in 2010
Because this study is not donor data. It is the compiled responses from 2,953 survey participants, age 20-35. It's what they said, not what they do. That's not to say the survey is wrong, or that it can't be generalized with a reasonable margin of error to the attitudes of the 20-35 population. But you simply can't look at that number and think these people are donors the same way your current stable of donors are donors.
Here's what the survey does not tell us:
- 74 million donors up for grabs.
- People born in the 80s are extraordinarily generous.
- Any nonprofit that isn't investing heavily in Millennial fundraising is doomed.
That 93% who said they gave in 2010 includes those who:
- Dropped money in the church collection plate at least once.
- Sponsored a pal in a walk or run.
- Gave $5 or $10 via their phone, mostly likely to Haiti quake relief, since the year in question is 2010.
- Gave money to panhandlers.
- Believe giving is good, but didn't quite get around to it.
... as well as those who were committed, ongoing supporters of causes.
If you're like most nonprofits, less than 5% of your donors are under age 35. There are reasons for that:
It's hard to find them.
More important, it's even harder to keep them.
That's the way it is with people in their 20s and 30s.
If you're in international relief, you get floods of them after major disasters. But nearly all of them lapse away, not giving again until the next disaster. Or until they turn 60 or so and become the type of loyal donors that make charitable work possible.
Every fundraiser should be deeply concerned about finding more young donors. But young donors are better defined as people between 50 and 65. Those are the folks who are about to transform, Get them now, and you have an amazing asset for decades to come.