How to get Millennial-aged donors to respond

Every donor file I’ve ever looked at has Millennials in it. Not a lot of them — usually 5% to 10% of all the donors. They’ve been on the file whether the organization was trying to get Millennials or not (and most were not trying).

How did they get there?

By not acting like Millennials. By being donors.

A lot of discussion about getting Millennial donors assumes you have to do fundraising in a completely different way from the ways that work with older donors. Direct mail, the most effective and scalable way to find and cultivate older donors, is barely effective with Millennials — as a group. But it’s working with that small segment of Millennials who don’t act their age.

Which is why this post at The Agitator the other day caught my attention: What Do You Do With An Envelope? It’s about the topic of what you should do differently if you’re aiming at Millennials:

… are Millennials more demanding of results than older donors? Do they demand more transparency? I doubt it … the ‘demand curve’ for performance and transparency is rising across the entire donor population.

My experience is this: As your fundraising grows more donor-respecting — more results-oriented, more transparent, more donor-as-hero — you get better results across all age segments.

In fact, marketing to generations is kind of bogus. Real donors are found in all generations. A lot more of them are older than younger, but what works usually works across age groups.

If you want to lower the average age of your donors, do more digital fundraising. Try broadcast and face-to-face. Those things will get you younger donors.

But if you really want to succeed, just do smart, media-diversified, donor-loving fundraising. That’ll get you donors. Of all ages.


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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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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 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 [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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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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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 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 [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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