Young Donors Want to Have Legacy-Giving Conversations Too
The young critical thinkers, problem-solvers, visionaries, and leaders who are re-imagining and transforming the world don't just want to make a mark—they want their legacy to have a lasting impression. Find ways to bring these young professionals into the legacy giving conversations within your organization. Provide them with a safe and exciting space to determine the timing, giving vehicle, and the significant impact they're envisioning. Developing and sustaining connections with young donors will boost your organization's ability to build and advance the support from multiple generations to come.
Strengthening the Pipeline
Since young donors have inconsistent annual giving or maybe no giving history, development officers usually do not focus on those donors. In some cases, they get moved to a portfolio only to remain unengaged and eventually drop out of response altogether. Many fundraising shops contribute a substantial proportion of their time engaging top-level donors and forget to cultivate relationships with young and emerging donors who may not be in the position to make a transformational gift at the moment. However, these individuals will be integral in developing and achieving long-term support for your fundraising plans and priorities.
Even though these young entrepreneurs and visionaries are early in their career and philanthropic journey, they are emerging and will one day be that influential partner and impactful donor. We should keep these passionate young pioneers involved and invested in the organization's mission and vision early on. It's essential to recognize that young donors want to have a robust emotional association with the organization before they are entirely comfortable offering their time, talent, or treasure. This shows these passionate supporters they can make a tangible difference and drives them to continue their involvement.
Re-thinking Philanthropic Exposure
For a young donor, they often obtain information and engagement about philanthropy through technology. It is vital to have an online and digital presence that showcases your organization's causes and development priorities, fundraising events, and philanthropic endeavors. Developing and communicating visually-oriented content for young and emerging donors isn't complex; organizations can develop email and communication strategies with a philanthropic focus tailored specifically for this demographic of potential donors. Common communication channels organizations should consider establishing or strengthening include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Engaging Emerging and Young Donors
Once an organization determines how they want to utilize the ongoing results of their digital exposure campaigns and young donor programming, they will be able to easily identify the young and emerging audiences the organization wants to target. There are different approaches to communicating and staying connected with young donors while they advance in their personal and professional endeavors. For instance, offer young donors considering their options for legacy giving networking and enriching activities tailored to the distinctive group. Organizations can promote and offer helpful information and assistance for young adults from the initial discovery phase through the donation phase. How can you incorporate the efforts your corporate and foundation relations units are pioneering into your programming and strategy? How can you connect current and future partnerships that your research and innovation units are leading to your programming and strategy? The good news is you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Think about how you can scale your organization’s current programs to complement your efforts to engage these future philanthropists.
The Next Generation of Philanthropists
Young adults just starting out in their careers will one day be in a position to give generously, but you shouldn’t wait until that happens before you start cultivating a relationship with them. Providing the right amount of engagement and philanthropic exposure from now will ensure you keep your organization at the top of their mind over the years. Providing essential investment details upfront will assist in building authentic relationships and trust with your emerging donors, which sets your organization up for success in obtaining long-term support with these discerning donors. It's essential to make your cultivation and discovery efforts fun for young donors, which will assist with long-term retention.
While it may seem like a cliché, the young donor is the future, so why aren't our fundraising plans and strategies a reflection of that future? Young donors are one of the organization's most powerful and vital constituent demographic. When organizations can authentically foster a culture of giving for young donors, the possibility of them growing with the organization and naturally seeing the impact of the mission and vision will inspire them to become vital and lifetime donors.
An inclusive and creative approach guarantees you effectively communicate and engage with your young supporters. Increasing your online and digital philanthropic exposure is key to strengthening relationships with the next generation of funders. We must challenge ourselves as fundraisers to dedicate the time to optimize our fundraising strategy, and our organizations will be able to strengthen future giving from generations to come.
While younger donors are different from other generations further along in their philanthropic journey, they're all united by the fact that they are passionate philanthropists who support charitable causes.
Andre Dowell, M.A.E., is an engagement officer, regional development at The University of Georgia.