December 2, 2014; Forbes

A recent report by the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University and 21/64, an organization that studies giving amongst various generations, found there were a couple important attributes to understanding the giving practices of the younger generations of Americans. According to an article on the study at Forbes’ website (via their BrandVoice sponsored content program), the following are five main motivations behind their giving:

  1. Flexibility. Younger donors are more inclined to support a cause rather than an institution. According to the article, when a young giver researches their giving approach, they may research “not only non-profit organizations but also individuals and for-profit companies that are tackling the issues they’re passionate about.”
  2. Helping Now, Not Then. Younger donors are looking at giving and getting involved in efforts where their help can be used today, which is different than their parents and grandparents, who “tend to wait until they’re older to decide who they are as philanthropists and what legacies they want to leave.”
  3. Rolling Up Their Sleeves. Younger givers are looking for additional investment outside of their financial gifts, usually in the form of personal involvement in the organization. According to the report, these younger givers “want to develop close relationships with the organizations or causes they support. They also want to listen and offer their own professional or personal talents, all in order to solve problems together with those whom they support.” Organizations will need to alter their approaches to donor prospecting and cultivation to adapt to this desire for greater connection among younger supporters.
  4. They want to make a mark on society consistent with their values. According to the report, 90 percent of young givers responding to the survey cited their parents as their model for philanthropy, ensuring that the younger generation have strong philanthropic values. To this end, young givers will be looking for new avenues to ensure that they are making a meaningful contribution to the world, including “exploring new philanthropic and investing tools” and a “greater reliance on social media and the Internet to learn about issues, causes and organizations that need their help, connect with fellow donors and conduct charitable activities online.”
  5. Networking. As the younger generation creates and uses social media and other tools that help expand networks, younger givers are also looking to use their experiences with those networks to help inform and enhance their philanthropy. According to the article, younger givers “enjoy sharing knowledge and experiences with their peers and believe that collaboration not only makes them…better donors, but also multiplies the impact of their gifts.”

As nonprofit organizations approach the holiday giving season, and hopefully longer-range development strategies when seeking younger givers, they will need to employ a number of strategies that will appeal to younger people’s motivations.—John Brothers