Young Donors are Key to Your Future — Get Them Involved

by Jon Nelson

Are you looking at graphs that always seem to have downward slants?  Are there negative trends in giving that you just can’t seem to reverse?  It could be due to the changing demographics of potential constituents.

It’s important to keep in mind that each generation of donors is different, and to keep your organization viable, recognition of their needs is vital.  Donors definitely have needs — be they wanting a warm fuzzy feeling, the opportunity to leave a legacy or the ability to gain investment income while simultaneously giving to a valued organization.  You may have understood all this already, but it pays (literally) to consider and study what’s important to each group.

The latest crop of 20- and 30-somethings certainly has needs, too, and if they are leveraged properly, your organization can truly be ready for the future.

“Young adults, struggling with student loans and small salaries, often can’t afford to write checks to their favorite causes. And many who can aren’t satisfied just making a financial contribution,” writes Melissa Korn in “Brother, Can You Spare Some Time?,” from The recent Wall Street Journal Philanthropy report.  “So instead of—or in addition to—donating money, a number of people in their 20s and early 30s are giving back to their communities by donating time, often their most valuable asset.”  The thing is, these people aren’t giving of their time just because it’s all some of them can give, it’s because they want to give of their time.  They want to be involved beyond just writing their name and some numbers on a check (or tapping their smartphone screen a few times — though you should look into that, too!).

The real kicker here is that those who get involved develop a deeper connection to what they serve and are far more likely to make major gifts once they do have the ability.  True, you may not see huge, immediate upticks in giving from those in their 20s and 30s but this is about keeping your cause going for the long run, and setting it up for continued success.  Furthermore, volunteers such as those discussed in the article may help you save resources and overhead in the meantime.  An added bonus is that they can help bring fresh ideas to your organization, not to mention their friends — and that’s good, too.  Young people are more likely to get involved in something if their friends are also interested in it and talking about it.

So, get creative, and use these motivated volunteers before you lose them … and keep in mind that losing them now could mean losing them forever.  The connections formed today because of involvement will most likely stick for life.

Jon Nelson, of Beloit, Wis., works in Communication Services for ALDE.  He is also Principal of Nelson Business Communications, LLC.


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