by Kris Kindelsperger
Young Donors a “Lost Cause?” Think Again.
Organizations that seek support from young donors have been tracking a disturbing trend for several years. The participation rates of young donors are low and in many instances falling, in comparison to historical trends. Unlike their predecessors, young donors are not following a pattern of gradual but steady growth in participation which traditionally came with maturity.
While the trends are clear, few organizations have been able to identify why this is happening. We’ve inferred that student indebtedness, generational attitudes towards “institutions,” technology, and other factors may play a role. But might the real problem be the way in which organizations are engaging young donors?
Here at JGA we have partnered with Achieve in a three month long study to survey donors between the ages of 22 and 40 about their philanthropic giving. The results will be published in April, but early results point to some fascinating responses. Young donors don’t appear especially interested in making undesignated gifts to the annual fund, they want to know specifics about how their gifts will be used, and they want to see proof that their giving is having an impact. They also have some surprising attitudes about how the ways in which they wish to be communicated with.
Could it be that the problem with young donor participation isn’t with the philanthropic inclination this age group, but with the failure of organizations to adapt their cultivation and solicitation methods?
Stay tuned for the full survey results which will be made available in April. Please submit your contact information here to receive the results as soon as they are released. Until then, feel free to share your thoughts on the findings so far, by posting in the JGA comments section below.