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3 Ways To Turn Those Entitled Kids Into Philanthropic Superstars

Posted by Maeve Strathy on Jul 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM

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Young Donors for Nonprofits

Editorial note: Today's post comes from Maeve Strathy. Come hear more from Maeve at our webinar on July 29th!

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, writing about, and being the young donor. We know all the cliché stuff; they’re the major donors of the future… And it’s true! If baby boomers are our main source of donations now, then it’s only a matter of time before their children take their place.

But how do you identify them, these billionaires of the future?

Do you have young people in your prospect pool? Who are they? And why did they end up there?

If they’re there because their parent is a major donor and you see them taking the reins someday soon, great! That is a fine reason for them to be considered. But don’t expect the money to start pouring in. In fact, don’t talk about money at all!

Involve them in your organization. Engage them in your cause. This upcoming generation is skeptical of you and takes nothing you say at face value. They don’t trust outsiders; they trust their friends and they trust cold, hard facts.

So be transparent. Share stats and metrics on your website about what you do, and what donors enable you to do.

Young donors really want to know what makes you tick – and how you tick – before they consider putting their precious dollars into your organization.

Give them a backstage pass. If you show them that you’re as awesome as you say you are, and you make them feel awesome for being a part of your organization (over a period of time), you can probably start talking about giving.

How do you make them feel awesome? Here are some ideas on how to engage your young people.

1. Make them an ambassador of your cause

I’m not talking about an honorary, figurehead position. Give your keenest young people a purpose in your organization. Task them with spreading the word about the good you’re doing to their friends and networks. By giving them purpose, showing the value they bring to what you do, they’ll feel good, and giving comes from the heart.

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2. Make volunteering fun

Show them the inner-workings of your organization and get them involved as a volunteer. Make that experience moving, fun, and highly social. Habitat for Humanity is a great example: when you do a build with Habitat, it involves teamwork, hard work, fun, and the genuine feeling of making an impact. Find the equivalent at your organization; your young people want to dig in!

3. Have a party

Young people love parties! Make it relevant to what you do, but the fun will be associated with your organization, and that currency of cool goes a long way. Showing people how fun it can be to be a part of your charity is a great way to bring them into the fold.

Have you made your young, prospective donors feel awesome? Great! Now follow up quickly, and ask them out for a coffee to get their advice and to discuss charitable giving. Be transparent – don’t pretend you’re not going to ask for money – but also ask for their advice first. They’ll be honored you asked, they’ll share helpful feedback on engaging their cohort, and they’ll be primed and ready for the “other ask”.


How do you engage your young donors? Share your ideas in the comments!

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maeveMaeve Strathy - Maeve Strathy caught the fundraising bug in a sequence of events starting with a need for cash (typical university undergrad predicament) and ending with a position as a student caller at Wilfrid Laurier University. Upon graduation, Maeve was thrilled to be hired by Trinity College School’s advancement office as their Alumni Development Officer. In January 2014, Maeve returned ’’home’’ to her alma mater where she is currently a Development Officer, Annual Giving focused on Leadership Giving. She also runs the site "What Gives Philanthropy", which is Maeve’s attempt to link together her many passions – philanthropy, fundraising, digital media, and writing.

Topics: Fundraising, Young donors,

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