DISLAIMER: I’m in my 20s
Paul Nazareth, networking wizard extraordinaire, sent me this article. In it, they summarize the findings of the Millennial Impact Report and conclude that “young donors” are actually in their 50s. The “young donors” in their 20s are not worth the time.
The article goes on to point out that donors in their 20s are a fickle crowd, throwing ten bucks to a friend for Movember, or maybe even twenty to a street canvasser, but on a random and impulse manner. They are (gasp) financially insecure and may be called to action by a natural disaster but are unlikely to maintain their relationship as a continuing donor.
Let me tell you, I never tire of articles knocking twenty-somethings. Those self-absorbed creatures glued to their
MTV smartphones that find a whole new level of entitlement in every aspect of their life: from school, to work, to what kind of lifestyle they think they deserve. They are the worst.
Although as a young broke donor I give haphazardly and have yet to build a lasting donor relationship with a specific organization, that shouldn’t preclude me from being worth an organization’s time and attention. The Millennial Impact Report did point out that the oft-disparaged Gen-Y is generous with their time, actively engaged in volunteer and board opportunities. Hey, we 20-somethings may not have the Bejamins/Bordens, but we’ve got passion and energy. And what with the twitters and our social networks, we can also be vital assets when it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising.
But I get it. You only have so many resources to put in to acquiring donors. Despite the volunteerism and the affinity for P2P fundraising, why would you try to chase down the elusive Gen-Y-ers when (according to the aforementioned article) Baby Boomers will provide you with a more solid return on investment?
Turn the clock back thirty years, before the Baby Boomers were your go-to donor demographic. What if you had started to build a relationship with them back then? Look at it a different way – in thirty years’ time the smug punk Gen-Y/Millennials/20-somethings of today are going to be your best bet for donations.
As the article from Charity Info says, any nonprofit not chasing Millennials isn’t doomed. Since it’s not a lucrative demographic, what’s the worry if they’re not a part of your donor relations strategy? No worry. But I would argue that mentality is short-sighted.
The organization that ignores me today when I’m struggling is going to expect me to give to them in thirty years. And who knows, I might donate something. But let’s say another organization created opportunities for me to feel included in the cause through my 20s, 30s, and 40s (the Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live is a pretty good example). Of the two organizations, who is going to add me to their list of major donors? It’s true, I’m financially unstable. So I give haphazardly. But some day I’ll be financially stable (fingers crossed!) and some day I’m going to look to give in a meaningful way.
In order to get that kind of investment from the major donors of tomorrow, you might want to consider investing in them today.
Just a thought.