2014 New York Nonprofit Conference: Chelsea Clinton on Fundraising and Storytelling
Clinton said the "media is more cynical than the American people are," and that the democratization of the media, as she called it, with blogs and social media and the like giving everyday people a voice is encouraging in that regard.
While no crystal ball exists to predict the future of fundraising, Clinton said the best way to get an idea of what fundraising may look like in 20 to 30 years is to look at the millennial generation and the way in which this generation engages today. Millennials will be parents and perhaps even grandparents in that time, prime giving age. So the way they engage today — online, via social media — and give — again, online, through crowdfunding, etc. — provides the framework of where philanthropy is headed.
In addition, volunteering will become more tailor-made, as individuals utilize research tools to find organizations that fit with their beliefs, lifestyles and preferences. The millennial generation also is more connected to the family and more likely to engage in small groups, she said. Looking at how millennials interact and behave can provide invaluable insights for the future of fundraising.
Context is king
Of course, it all comes back to storytelling in the end when it comes to fundraising, and Clinton made sure to note that fundraisers must provide relevance no matter the audience, especially when trying to tap a new audience — for instance, international supporters.
"How can you make it relevant to what people care about? Provide credibility?" she asked. "… Context really matters. Many challenges in the U.S. are common challenges — but that does not mean they are the same."
"It's important to tell your story … and tell that story in the right way," Cowart added.
Clinton also noted that it's OK if not everything is universal and global. Sometimes the mission really does call for something locally focused. Don't try to force a new audience if it's not relevant.