Younger donors are older than you think

publication date: Jul 25, 2012
There's yet another study heralding Millennials as the new frontier in fundraising potential. It's the Millennial Impact Report by Johnson Grossnickle + Associates - but Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks isn't as impressed with that demographic as are some interpreters of the study.

Yes, 93% of surveyed Millennials gave to nonprofits in 2010 - or said they did. Brooks can be counted on to point out that self-reported survey responses are about what people say they do, not what people actually do.

Those respondents, Brooks, explains, may have dropped money in the church collection plate at least once, or sponsored a pal in a walk or run, or given $5 or $10 by phone to Haiti quake relief, or even given money to panhandlers. And some of them will also be committed donors to causes close to their hearts.

Despite the high percentage of self-reported giving among Millennials in this particular study, Brooks observes that the study itself doesn't indicate that the entire generation (74 million strong in the US) is "up for grabs" as donors. It doesn't conclude that people born in the 1980s are particularly generous, nor does it predict that any nonprofit not chasing Millennials is doomed.

Proof is in the data

Brooks points out that for most nonprofits, less than 5% of the donor base is younger than 35. They're hard to engage and keep, and they're not financially secure. Their typical gift is a spontaneous response to a disaster far away, but they don't remain involved even with that relief charity.

It isn't until they turn 60 or so, he says, that they become the type of loyal donors who sustain charitable work.

So yes, go after more young donors. But Brooks asserts that "young donors are better defined as people between 50 and 65. . . . Get them now, and you have an amazing asset for decades to come."

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