Photo courtesy of HowardLake
In response to Tom Belford’s post titled, “Who’s A Younger Donor” and Jeff Brooks’ comments on his blog discussing the validity of the Millennial Impact report, Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve, and lead on the report itself, responded directly to both authors. We’ve taken excerpts from Derrick’s response, as well as Tom and Jeff’s pieces to provide a way to follow the discussion and share your own ideas.
As a follow-up, both Achieve and Social Citizens hope to explore these views, as well as others, and discuss how organizations may apply the report findings. The Case Foundation also is a sponsor of the affiliated MCON12 virtual summit taking place on July 19, 2012--and we hope to continue the conversation there as well.
In the meantime, take a look and tell us what you think about the role of Millennial donors…
After reading your recent posts we have some concerns about the interpretation of the report. I am hopeful we can have this discussion to help your readers understand how to use the report and take initial steps to engage the Millennial generation.
Let’s start with Jeff’s comment that, “…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.”
To clarify, Jeff is reporting on a statistic from our research released 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.
In fact, 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.
One of Jeff’s readers posted this on his blog:
“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 Many nonprofits are stuck with text-heavy websites, outdated Facebook pages and inactive Twitter accounts (which in most cases is due to lack of time and resources).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.”
We couldn’t have said it any better.
Another one of Jeff's major points is that, “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.”
Telling organizations to focus on those in their fifties and sixties, which Jeff defines 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" as Jeff puts it; because they lack the ability or skill to engage Millennials beyond just asking for money.
The third annual Millennial Impact report was developed and released by Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates. The research team gathered information from an online survey of Millennials, ages 20-35, that included 6,522 responses from 14 institutions, three focus groups, and an online survey of 89 nonprofit professionals.