Thursday, July 05, 2012

Millennial Impact Report: Part 3 - Give Results and Takeaways

This is my third article in a trilogy about the Millennial Impact Report. The report is issued by Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle Associate and funded by the Case Foundation.  The findings and recommendations are drawn from over 6500 surveys completed and focus groups of “Millennial Professionals” aged 20 – 35.  95% of the participants were college graduates.  The purpose of the study was to develop a better understanding of successful strategies for nonprofits to engage millennials.  Since it has been published, the nonprofit social media circuit has been abuzz with commentary on the report.  Pinterest has the infographics, webinars feature discussion of its results and blog articles abound.  Still, there is so much here, I can’t help myself so here I am writing my third article about it – the results and my commentary.

 The report is grouped into three categories –
·       Connect
·       Involve
·       Give

My earlier article on this blog covers the Connect aspect of the report.  There is a companion article at the Nonprofit Capacity Building  Great Research for Nonprofits: Millennial Impact Report – Involve the 20-35 Year Olds which addresses the “Involve” aspect of the report.  This article is about the “Give” aspects of the results.

Yes, Millennials have different giving habits than their elders. They give – they give less – but there are a lot of them – and if you are interested in their money you better listen up.  When I discuss using social media and donating online in my workshops I always use the sample of my millennial son.  He has a checking account, but he doesn’t have checks.  I’m actually not sure that he knows how to fill out a paper check properly. (You know – include the date, show amount in both numbers and written out, make sure you sign it).  You will never get a dime from him in a paper check sent through US Mail even if you have the most perfect piece of direct mail ever printed - you can forget it.  You have to reach him online.  He is not unusual, he is typical of his generation.  So that’s my anecdotal sample of one. Lets see what over 6500 of his contemporaries had to say.

Key Overall Finding

75% of the Millennials responding to the survey made a financial gift to a nonprofit organization in 2011. While 58% of those gifts were $100 or less per organization, the typical Millennial supported five organizations in 2011, and 87% said they expect to support at least as many organizations in 2012.

This chart shows which channels Millennials used to give in 2011 . The number one way – by far – that Millennials prefer to donate is online with 70% of respondents having made 2011 gifts online through a nonprofit’s webpage.  The lowest channel for giving was Facebook with only 3% responding that they gave this way.  This confirms that even with Millennials,  Facebook is best used to build relationships – not for fundraising.  It can be effective for “backseat fundraising” (That’s my term) in that it is great for promoting informal events that specifically appeal to Millennials .  Note that 34% gave in person.  So let’s say you host a networking event in a local pub with an opportunity to donate online conveniently set up, Facebook could be an effective way to attract attendees.  Millennials prefer spur of the moment events rather than those with longer lead time commitments.

Why do Millennials Give?

42% of respondents chose, “I give to whatever inspires me at the moment.” This really is the “in the moment” generation.  The nonprofits I know put a huge effort into well thought out events.  They need to be more nimble and “in the moment” to reach this crowd. Smaller, informal events are much more likely to work.

Most Millennial donors want to know their gifts will make a difference. Messages such as “Your support will make an impact; here’s how …” can be effective.

Focus group participants responded well to tangible examples of what the nonprofit can purchase or provide for constituents at certain levels of giving. They want solicitations to be concise, visual, and clear as to what action was desired and how it would help the cause. Matching gifts also motivated young professionals who cannot give a lot. They like knowing donations were making a larger impact.

Millennials are very social about their giving.  They will ask friends for their support and they will respond to friends requests.  In many cases a $50 gift from a millennial may have brought in more than that $50.  This may be done on facebook, with a fundraising website, with walk sponsorships, bringing friends to an event, etc.

The Big Takeaways

Create a website and social media presence that makes it easy for donors to give as inspiration strikes.

• Deliver tangible transparency, describing in literal terms what donors’ gifts will do for the organization – what the money will buy or support.

• Equip your Millennial donors to solicit donations from others.

• Ask … for donations, for volunteers and for Millennials to serve as your champions.

Read the whole report - Download The Millennial Impact Report here.

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