ProSpeak: Engaging Young Donors
Fundraisers often ask, “Why should I spend time working with young donors?”
In response, I often challenge them to perform a simple test: analyzing the age of their current donor base. If they’re like many organizations, they’ll find a significant number of donors age 40 and older.
I imagine you’re in the same boat, and you’re likely thinking, “So, what’s wrong with that? That’s where the money is; that’s the most efficient base. If I can meet my goals focusing on that base, why spend time chasing younger donors with fewer dollars?”
It is true that a lot (but not all) of the money is in that older demographic. But fundraising isn’t — and never should be — simply about raising money today. It’s about developing relationships that result in long-term stability and effectiveness. Achieving that objective requires diversity. Think of your investment portfolio: It requires investment in long-term vehicles as well as those with a quicker, more short-term return. Similarly, when it comes to cultivating donors, you need to work with those who can make an immediate impact as well as those who have the ability to contribute stable returns over a longer period.
So, it’s not about why you should focus on engaging young donors. It’s about how you do it.
Before we talk about how to engage these donors, though, I want to offer a quick caveat. You might be tempted — as many organizations are — to pursue this effort to become relevant with the 20- to 30-something audience by setting up a Facebook page or some other social-media site. Many organizations assume that by simply putting themselves in that setting, they’ll attract young donors to their mission. But this approach often fails because, simply put, technology can be a useful tool, but it is not the answer for reaching young donors.