Reach Out Now to Secure Donors for the Future
The good news, Goldseker says, is that the younger generation hasn’t lost interest in charities.
“They lived through Columbine, the tsunami, 9/11. They care; they just have a [different] way they do it,” she says, explaining by way of an example that younger donors used social-networking site Facebook Causes to contribute to recent disasters.
“The power of their $5 or $1 [gifts] generated millions of dollars,” Goldseker says. “It’s different than a major gift.”
Here, Solomon offers some tips for reaching out to younger generations.
1. Invite young adults onto your boards and staff. “Many nonprofits don’t bring young adults into key positions,” Solomon says. “Boards tend not to be diverse. Age diversity is pretty significant. It gets the younger generation involved in your cause.”
2. Young people don’t want to just write checks. Generations X and Y aren’t ready to hand out their cash without knowing exactly what an organization does, how it does it and how their money will be put to use.
“Get them involved, and let them see and fully understand the impact of their contributions,” he says. “They’ve grown up in the information age and have a great mistrust of institutions. Let them get to know you.”
3. Be genuine. “Authenticity counts with this generation,” Solomon says. “We call it ‘the comb over’ when an organization tries to make itself look younger or hipper without really doing anything else. It’s got to be authentic.”
4. Ask them how they want to be involved. Solomon says organizations should find out what types of projects younger folks are interested in. “So many organizations don’t do that,” he says.
5. Pay attention to the older folks who are donating now, but pay at least as much — if not more — attention to the next generation of givers. “The smarter organizations will invest more time creating connections to the younger generation,” Solomon says. “Returns on those investments may not be seen for years, but you’re building your base for tomorrow.”