To capture Millennial donors, ask for their time and their gifts

Expert Insight

To capture Millennial donors, ask for their time and their gifts

Of young alumni who volunteer, 82% say they plan to donate, too

Volunteering has always been a mechanism that nonprofits use to accomplish their missions and to engage current and potential donors in order to get that next gift. While many schools are focused on major gifts in the short-term, that focus is often at the expense of building an engaged donor pipeline, which risks efforts down the road. Today’s failure to build a broad base of support among young donor segments probably doesn’t sabotage tomorrow’s campaign, but it will jeopardize the one after that.

What’s even tougher is that Generation X and Millennial donors are not like the ones that came before them; they respond to neither the impassioned plea nor issues that don’t solve problems, but rather to an accounting of return on investment for their gift’s impact on students, faculty, or the community—both local and global. Our study, Creating a Culture of Giving Among Current Students, serves as a primer featuring proven strategies on student and young alumni engagement in philanthropy in order to get them in the habit of giving back.

Millennials Embarking on Philanthropic Lives

We are acutely interested in the role of alumni relations and the contribution their work can have on development strategy. At many institutions, alumni relations and development are siloed. However, progressive institutions are recognizing that the much-derided “friend-raising” of alumni relations is in fact just the development officer’s “prospect cultivation” by another name—and it’s just as sweet.

At the end of the day, it’s about building engagement and affinity among friends and alumni to keep them “warm” for eventual solicitation down the road. Gifts of “time” and “talent” are likely to lead to financial gifts in the future.

5 strategies for building the next generation of alumni leaders and volunteers

Today’s alumni are ready to go “all in” as donors and volunteers, is your institution ready? Read the full study,The New Rules of Engagement, to learn how schools can alter their alumni engagement strategies to appeal to young donors’ desire to share their skills and expertise, not just their time and money.


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