When we think about the term "millennial", the common association is with folks fresh out of college who are more concerned with living their own lives than contributing to charitable causes. Unfortunately, that profile doesn't align with where millennials actually fit into the giving pyramid. The oldest millennials are now nearly 40 years old with houses, children, and are next in line for the ongoing transfer of generational wealth.
On paper, it may not seem like millennials are your standard major giving prospect. But we said the same thing about today’s major donors when they were the same age.
According to the Burk Donor Survey Report, 47% of donors under the age of 35 said they actually could have given more last year. Prospects are admitting you're leaving revenue on the table. So why aren't younger donors giving more despite having the capacity?
One could make the argument that their affinity for the mission has not evolved to a point where they are comfortable giving more. But according to Burk's findings, younger donors were the most likely to give to more causes whereas middle-aged donors preferred to make big gifts to just a few charities. Younger donors are passionate about causes before they have the capacity to give at a higher level.
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But the issue is not capacity or affinity. The problem is a lack of personal connection to the organization.
Again, it can be easy to disregard millennial donors because they lack the capital to give at the major gift level. But failing to acknowledge the evolving paradigm of generational wealth assumes that your existing major donors, many of whom are older and presumably giving as part of their retirement planning, will continue giving ad infinitum. Eventually, the younger donors that received nothing but mass marketing emails while amassing wealth become your prime major giving prospects with no reason to support your organization.
Major gifts are not made overnight - they require years of cultivation before coming to fruition. So the question you should be asking is: if I want to make sure that the next generation of major donors has an affinity for my organization, why would I wait to reach out?
According to the Burk Donor Survey Report, 47% of donors under the age of 35 said they actually could have given more last year.
Diving deeper into the donor pool can help you uncover donors that may have slid under the radar in the past because their "giving stats" do not align with your ideal donor profile. But I encourage you to ask how many of your existing major donors fit the bill before their first major gift?
So the issue then shifts to fundraiser capacity to provide the same white-glove service that existing major donors have come to expect while completing the necessary discovery work to engage more donors who do not give at the same level. Many organizations are leaning on artificial intelligence to give fundraisers the extra time they need in their day to achieve this.
Diving deeper into the giving pyramid doesn't mean working longer hours - it simply means spending time working on the right things. Check out Gravyty's fundraising toolkit "Reprioritizing A Fundraiser's Time" for a simple way to make sure you are optimizing your workday. In addition to this free toolkit, you'll also receive a checklist that you can use today for visibility into what is holding your fundraisers back from doing the best work of their lives. Download for free today: