Understanding and Engaging the Next Generation of Philanthropists, Part 1
There is no denying that the most generous donors tend to be older. As such, they should — and do — receive a lot of attention from fundraisers. Nonprofits cannot afford to neglect their best donors.
That doesn't make engaging the next generation of philanthropists any less vital, however. As you know, studies show that the longer a donor has been involved with an organization, the more loyal and valuable that donor is. Thus, fundraisers must always be on the lookout for ways to engage young donors now to establish a relationship that will bear fruit for years to come.
The hard part is that donor behavior — thanks in large part to technology — shifts from generation to generation. The next wave of philanthropists — millennials (born in the 1980s and '90s) and younger — have differing ideals and aren't as engaged with direct mail as traditional donors; they reside mostly online, namely by utilizing social media. And social media is all about how many friends, followers and connections you have, and how you interact with them.
"You have to get the ball rolling on the younger generation of philanthropists," says Arnon Shafir, co-founder and CEO of give2gether, an online social-media platform provider designed to help nonprofits leverage social activists for their causes. "To them, it's not about how much you give; this whole generation is about how much you care. It's how many friends you have on Facebook and how many followers you have on Twitter."
So naturally, social media is the place to engage this demographic. Shafir and fellow give2gether co-founders Shachar Kariv, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley; Hoan Soo Lee, Ph.D, Harvard Business School; and Douglas Gale, silver professor of economics at New York University, researched the behavior of this new socially wired generation and found enormous fundraising potential for organizations in the digital space.