How to find the next generation of major gift donors


How to find the next generation of major gift donors

Setting our Sights on Tomorrow's Prospects

The major gift pipeline is critical to future fundraising success. With a generational change among donors on the horizon, advancement shops need to get in the door early with their Gen X and Millennial philanthropic leaders.

Making strategic investments in pipeline development for future major gift donors means that advancement must identify who those future leaders are and then target engagement and solicitations specifically to their needs.

The average age of investors worth $25M+ dropped by

11 years

Average age in 2014:


Average age in 2019:



Motivated by the next
promotion or pay raise


Masterfully navigates
a complex bureaucracy

Risk Averse

Prefers a more predictable
path to wealth


Average salary of a 4th year BigLaw employee


Average Goldman Sachs employee salary

Top managers of Fortune 100 companies are fundamentally different: they’re younger, more of them are female, fewer of them were educated at elite institutions, [and] they’re making it to the top faster…” – Harvard Business Review

Create opportunities for corporate climbers to own the impact of
their dollars.

Birmingham Southern College uses fundraising products with explicit price tags, impact statements, and stewardship next steps to encourage mid-level donations. Fundraising products from each division are organized online through a campus-wide gift registry page for donors to easily navigate.


Dedicates mindshare to passion projects over salary

Fluent in Philanthropy

Understands wealth-culture
and giving


Hard to Impress

Expects high-touch relationships from day one


Amount millennials will inherit by 2030 in total assets (includes real estate, etc.)


The average amount millennials will inherit

Among young inheritors, an urge to redistribute

“Resource Generation, a group that allows young inheritors [18-35] to talk openly… We definitely have a portion of the community who are giving away all inherited wealth.”
– The New York Times

Scale one-on-one relationships with the institution to give anticipated inheritors the attention they expect.

Miami University in Ohio assigns a centralized stewardship staff member to keep mid-level donors informed and engaged.  Stewardship staff rely on one-to-many customizable communications during their pledge period and then handoff the relationship to a gift officer when the pledge is fulfilled.


Challenges the status-quo
to provide new solutions
and improvements


Prioritizes the needs and
success of their business
above all else


Asks tough questions in their work—and in their philanthropy, too


Of company CEOs on Forbes’s
next billion-dollar startups list
are under the age of 40


Number of chief executives
ages 25-44 (2019)

Entrepreneurs expect to donate

Percent of Investments Earmarked for Philanthropy by Age Group

Build delayed donation opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs to promise future funds to the institution.

University of California, Berkeley asks emerging entrepreneurs to promise a portion of their equity in a firm to be donated upon a liquidity event. In return, over-extended entrepreneurs receive mentors, exclusive networking opportunities, and access to hiring events.

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