After the Baby Boomers: Engaging Generation X and Millennials
[Editor's note: This article is based on the session "After the Baby Boomers: Fundraising and Managing With Generation X and the Millennials," presented by Jane McIntosh, senior director of individual giving and membership services at Lincoln Center; Sandra Roberts, senior associate director of external relations and development at Columbia University; Carey Meltzer, director of major gifts at WNET-Thirteen; and Bobby Gondola, director of development at Year Up, held at Fund Raising Day in New York.]
In today's fundraising shops, members of Generations X and Y are quickly moving into the workforce and donor pools of social profit organizations. Panelists for the session "After the Baby Boomers: Fundraising and Managing With Generation X and the Millennials" at Fund Raising Day in New York identified ways to work with individuals from different generations, explained why it's important to engage Generation X and Y individuals as partners and not simply donors, and why your approach should be different.
When identifying ways to engage the millennials of Generation Y, organizations are encouraged to connect with this future pipeline of donors and their soon-to-be board members. Is this the case? The overarching worry is whether there is a return on an investment engaging with the younger donor populations. For example, Lincoln Center sees significant turnover in its young leader circles, and it's reinventing programming to reach this demographic — however, these young leaders are not converting into Lincoln Center donors. Are these the philanthropists and board members of tomorrow? Lincoln Center has yet to learn the answer to that question.
The Year Up story is one that celebrates donors of Generations X and Y. Started by a social entrepreneur, the organization, which connects urban young adults with corporate jobs, is run much like a business itself. Donors are compelled to give to the organization’s mission because it addresses systemic social problems and boasts measurable outcomes — 85 percent of graduates are employed full time or enrolled in school full time within four months. Donors invest in these results.