by Ted Grossnickle
JGA and Achieve have worked to understand the ways Millennials engage, volunteer and give because we see the important role this audience of 20 – 35 year olds will play in the future of philanthropy.
But we have seen many organizations struggle to make the case that Millennials matter. What we are learning is that for some non profits, there is a real divide or obstacle to changing their practices to meet the needs of this growing group.
We frequently hear in board meetings and among development staff that they don’t see the value in focusing time or efforts on trying to understand or engage this generation. The mental calculus seems to be: “Well, they are not giving that much money right now and I have larger more pressing things which command my attention.”
Old habits are tough to break. Experimenting with new approaches and moving away from “this is how we’ve always done it,” may mean changing how you are funded and approved in your work.
For these reasons, there remains a contingent of those in charge of advancement or volunteer efforts that just don’t pay much attention to this generation of future donors -- a decision that will undoubtedly have repercussions later.
So whose fault is this?
It might be that some of your colleagues don’t understand that persons this age do want to be engaged and involved and simply require some new ways to get them to do so.
If it’s a question of not understanding how to engage them, I urge you to look at recommendations provided in the 2011 Millennial Donors Report or join us for MDS11, a virtual conference and conversation on exploring new methods of engaging Millennials.
But it might be something else.
Suppose we do a better job of conveying to our colleagues- those in charge of advancement and volunteer efforts- that this is ALL about the future?
Have you talked with your colleagues about the following?
- What percentage of your donor base are aged 20-35?
- How many are visiting, volunteering or giving right now?
- How many email or cell phone numbers do you have for them? Are you making strong efforts to even capture those?
- Have you shared the 2011 Millennial Donor Report or a summary with them? With your advancement committee? (It’s available at www.millennialdonors.com )
- Has your volunteer committee asked for a plan to engage younger donors and friends?
- What happens to your millennials if you don’t capture them? Who will?
Maybe it’s time you learn to make the case for the future…