Time and Money: Philanthropy of Millennials and Baby Boomers

Over 1.5 million non-profits are registered in the US according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS). All of which are looking to garner support from the public. The two largest groups, with greatest buying power, are the Baby Boomers and Millennials; groups with very different experiences and motivations.

Baby Boomers watched as Neil Armstrong took “one small step” on the moon, can remember the Cold War, JFK’s assassination, and the Vietnam War, as well as Beatle-mania and Woodstock. They also saw some of the most successful years we’ve had as a country, and are generally more financially secure. Millennials witnessed the birth, and foster the growth of the digital age, watched as the Twin Towers fell, helped elect the United States’ first African-American President, and stream music on their iPhones. Though they have considerable buying power (due to the large size of the group), many Millennials struggle to reach the financial success of the older generations due to the “Great Recession” in the late 2000s. These groups have different perspectives of the world but both groups are big on giving back.

google search for millennialsBut what motivates them?

I am part of the Millennial generation, the older part; some might call me an “aging Millennial”. Like many of my age group, I hate to identify myself as one. We are described as lazy and whiny. Some say our generations is what’s wrong with the world; but we’re also doing a lot to change it.

Though we may not be rolling in the dough to give back to our alma mater, we definitely have causes in which we believe deeply. We use social media to talk about our passions and promote Kickstarter Campaigns  (like bringing back Reading Rainbow and making a new Super Troopers movie), start or donate to GoFundMe pages to help support those impacted by tragedy in our community, and craft videos or social media posts supporting a cause like the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. One thing is for sure, we like to get involved! We may not have tons of money to donate, but we are more than happy to donate our voice, time, and talents for a cause.

generational givingBaby Boomers have long been the focus of non-profit organizations. Of the nearly $144 billion that will be donated this year, 43% of the funds will come from this generation. When making a donation they plan out their gifts, opposed to “impulsive” small monetary donations of their younger counterparts. This group was active in their youth in the civil rights movement and protesting the Vietnam War, now they are more drawn to being part of the decision-making process and are more likely to attend committee meetings or sit on a charity’s board.

But how do you reach them?

Create a story behind your cause; make a “brand”: Millennials support causes, not always a specific charity, and Baby Boomers want to understand where their contribution is going when making an investment. By utilizing story telling, a non-profit can foster support from both.

Use multi-faceted channels for donations: Charitable organizations cannot function on volunteers alone monetary gifts are a big part of getting this done. When running a fundraising campaign, ensure your plan uses multiple channels like email, direct mail, and social media with easy and direct ways to give. The easier it is to donate, the more likely either group is to donate; be it at their local grocery store at check out, or on your website from their phones after a conversation with friends.

Promote volunteer opportunities: Both of these generations like to get involved so give them opportunities to! By getting these groups involved you create relationships that can result in further monetary donations (especially in the long run from the younger ones), and repeat assistance. So make volunteer opportunities plentiful, highly visible, and flexible.

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