‘Millennial’ donors seen needing personal touch

Contrary to conventional wisdom, donors in the “millennial” generation ages 20 to 40, while connected by technology and social media, are more motivated to give and volunteer as a result of personal engagement and human connections, a new study says.

Many millennials will respond to the chance to connect with a nonprofit’s leadership and have a voice in the organization’s direction, the study says.

So nonprofits that want to tap those donors should redesign their processes for engaging and asking, and should treat millennial givers more like established donors and volunteers, says the 2010 Millennial Donor Study, a joint project of Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle Associates.

Nonprofits should “surrender many of the assumptions being made about millennial donors and focus on engagement and personal connections to draw them into involvement and giving,” the study says.

Nonprofits also “need to shift their attitudes, realign their staffs and engage this ‘low-capacity’ audience in ways more typically reserved for donors with greater means,” it says.

It also says that while millennials prefer to get information from nonprofits by email, they prefer to use Google to find information about nonprofits.

“We believe technology and social media can be great tools for reaching this audience,” the study says. “However, long-term success will require that organizations marry these new tools with real personal engagement, reaping the benefits of connecting with a maturing generation of donors that not only are acquiring greater means but that also are willing to act as champions and evangelists.”

Among the findings of the study, which asked over 2,200 people ages 20 to 40 across the U.S. about their giving habits and engagement preferences:

  • 91 percent of millennial donors are at least somewhat likely to respond to a face-to-face request for money from a nonprofit.
  • 55.2 percent are likely or highly likely to respond to a specific request or particular project.
  • 71.9 percent do not need to volunteer before they give.
  • Millennial donors want to know details about a nonprofit they support.
  • 60.5 percent want access to board and executive leadership.
  • Most millennial donors would be likely or highly likely to give if asked by a family member or friend.
  • Email is millennial donors’ most preferred communication method, with Facebook and print trailing far behind.

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