How to beat the fundraising “Millennial gold rush”

Mention Millennials (those born 1981-1995), and a lot of people in fundraising swoon. Like they’re basically a gold mine we can walk into and start grabbing nuggets any time we want.

If that’s what you think, please think again.

And while you’re doing that, read The Millennial Myth at The Agitator.

Next year, Millennials will overtake Boomers as the largest generation in the US. And there are indications that culturally they are more tuned to service and philanthropy than other generations. Sounds promising, right?

Reality check: Millennials are 25.9% of the US population. But they make 11% of US charitable giving. (Blackbaud study here.) Here’s average per-person giving by generation:

  • Millennials: $481
  • Generation X: $732
  • Boomers: $1,212

The difference has little to do with the relative virtue of each generation. It’s all about age. I’m confident that Millennial giving will increase as they age. And if they are truly more philanthropic than other generations, we will have a kind of gold age of fundraising as their large numbers and generous hearts start showing up in fundraising numbers.

But here’s the main point from The Agitator about Millennials that you should take note of:

Looking at Millennials with the belief they act one way or the other as a group is not reliable.

There are other factors that tell you a lot more about the likelihood someone will give. Mainly their age (as opposed to their generation), and whether they are practicing religious believers. There are other lifestyle things that may be predictive, depending on your cause.

But looking at Millennials and thinking you’re looking at a gold mine?

It doesn’t work. It’s a waste of money, time, and energy.

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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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