Engaging Gen X and Y, Generational Philanthropy, Major Gifts

X + Y = $

I’m excited to announce that I will be speaking at the upcoming San Diego AFP Luncheon on June 4, 2010 (11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) on Philanthropy Through a Generational Lens (http://www.afpsd.org/). I will be on a panel with three other wonderful folks: Emily Davis (EDA Consulting), Charlene Seidle (Jewish Community Foundation) and Adam Svet (The Eastridge Group).

So what is Generational Philanthropy? It sounds more intimidating than it actually is. Generational Philanthropy simply refers to the way each generation (Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y, et al) engage in donating their time, treasure and talent. As fundraisers, it is important for us to understand how and why each generation donates, so that we can approach them through the proper vehicles and build long-lasting, loyal relationships.

Emily Davis, illustrious moderator of the panel, has broken down each generation and their tendencies towards philanthropy. Here are some important points and characteristics about donors through the generational lens:

Mature donors (1925 – 1945, ages 65 – 85 years)
• Influenced by World Wars
• Direct mail is how this group originally finds out about a charity
• Make most donations through a check in the mail
• Smaller cohort with less opportunity for new nonprofits to break through
• Hesitant about sharing any contact information
• Give larger amounts to fewer organizations
• Continue using direct mail and peer-to-peer solicitations (i.e. fundraising walks)
• Learn about charities they want to support in their 30s and donate for years to come

Boomers (1946 – 1964, ages 46 – 64 years)
• Influenced by Vietnam War Protests, Assassinations of MLK Jr and JFK, The Beatles
• Most important age group for organizations to focus on
• Mix of using both online and traditional strategies
• Plan their giving more often
• More concerned about overhead and operational costs
• Often learn about charities through main stream media
• Learn about charities in their 30s and continue to support

Gen Xers (1965 – 1980, 30 – 45 years old)
• Influenced by Bill Gates, Madonna, Friends
• Important for organizations to focus on working with this demographic
• Friends and family (peers) influence their giving
• Donate based on stories that move them rather than a sense of loyalty to a particular cause
• Like mature donors, they tend to give the same amount to their top charity every year
• They are harder to recruit because they are more viral
• Good prospects for lifetime donors
• Of all the generations, they donate the most through websites (30%)

Gen Ys (1981 – ?, under 30 years of age)
• Influenced by 9/11, iPods, American Idol
• Largest group next to the Boomers, so good opportunity for lifetime giving
• Focus on philanthropy being about more than money (i.e. volunteerism)
• Fully immersed in the online world (i.e. Facebook, You Tube)
• Lower cost relationship-building because they are online
• Need a multi-communication approach
• Likely to fundraise for their favorite causes
• Donate through a variety of giving channels
• Direct mail has no impact – peer to peer opportunities had the most impact
• Millenials will probably continue to use the same giving channels as they age

To see Emily’s full post on the topic, visit: http://edaconsultingcafe.blogspot.com/2010/05/fundraising-through-generational-lens.html

Why do Gen X and Y donors give? Here are a few reasons I have found through experience and some great articles:
• Want to leave a mark now
• Want to have an impact
• Won’t accept status quo
• Getting involved because of personal experience (child is diagnosed with a rare disease, a close friend dies of cancer or is killed, benefit hometown or country, etc.)
• They are concerned with inequality and justice, and care about being more inclusive, more diverse, and more open to partnering with the movements they support
• They want to make it a part of the way they live as early as possible, not just something that they do with any leftover money at the end of their lives
• A survey conducted by Northern Trust, the private-banking concern, revealed that Generation-X millionaires (aged 28 to 42) gave an average of $20,000 to worthy causes in 2006, double the size of giving by their parents and grandparents.

In the next week, I am going to talk more about engaging your Gen X and Y-ers in philanthropy.

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