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non-profit giving donor development insights

Some very interesting research was recently published and if you pay attention, the 2012 Millenial Impact Report can be very relevant to your church or non-profit donor development communications efforts.

The intent of the research was to find the best ways to engage the millennial generation for volunteering, donations and involvement in leadership.

Here are just some of the findings that I found really interesting along with personal reactions listed below:

  • 75% of surveyed Millennials made a financial gift to a nonprofit organization in 2011 // Are you still saying giving is down?  No one is in the mood to give these days?  Think again!
  • The typical Millennial supported five organizations in 2011 // This tells us that it definitely makes sense to try and build relationships with this group.  They aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket.   They see a need, they give.
  • By a margin of more than 2-to-1, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations, and survey responses and focus groups comments suggest that volunteering correlates to larger gifts // Are you making volunteers a central part of how you carry out your mission?  Do you have a spot for every person that would want to give their time and talent?
  •  70% of the Millennials participating in the survey said they have raised money on behalf of nonprofits, most often by promoting events or participating in active events // Are you just asking for checks?  Or are you finding ways to create experiences that help engage donors via physical events?
  • Millennials are willing to help raise money for nonprofits they believe in, and will turn first to family and friends for donations // If you can gain the trust and support of this group, they’re willing to carry the torch for you to their personal network
  • 89% of Millennials go first to the web page that describes the mission of the organization // Does your website tell WHY you do what you do?  I’m not talking corporate gobbldy-gook mission statements.  I’m talking good storytelling that shows (not tell), what you do, why and how.
  • The phrase that best describes their giving preferences (42% of respondents): “I give to whatever inspires me at the moment.” // Are you effectively sharing your vision? You are sharing all the great stories of the transformations & impact their donations create large and small?  And vice vesra, whenever you share the small and big wins, are you make it easy for someone to give again?

But I think the biggest idea that can be taken away from this research report is something the organizations I work with are already tired hearing about from me at this point (but I won’t stop saying it again and again!):  You have to continue to chisel away at the gap between when the donation action occurs and when you share what impact their contribution has done.

When someone gives you money, they want to know their donation made an impact, and they want to know it isn’t just a drop in the bucket.  You have to make sure you communicate that every dollar they gave was critical — and share how it was pivotal in doing ____________.  Without their donation, ____________ would not have been possible!

Your job isn’t just to say what words fill that blank space, it is to put it on display.  Tell the story.  Your job is to put the donor as close to the point of impact as possible.

What part of this equation is still a challenge for you?  Describe it in the comments below so we can help you increase your effectiveness.


This is the third in a series of guest posts by Howard Freeman – Founder and Principal of Zoey Creative Development, a charitable giving consultancy in NYC serving both organizations and also individual philanthropists.

He is also the author of the upcoming book on online giving called, ‘Making A Difference 2.0’ (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2012) and can be reached at



During the last two segments, we’ve looked at finding more money and raising more money.

This week, we look at tending to what we’ve found and been entrusted with.

Wise farmers, and smart geneticists who deal with environmental issues, know that over-farming or farming the wrong crops can all but permanently ruin a piece of land.

Those of us in ministry who ask our people to give need to consider them not as ATMs but as living, organic beings who are created in God’s image (Gen 1), are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139) and in fact are God’s very handiwork (Eph 2:10).  If we truly took these truths to heart, we would fully engage in the top two tasks yet not fail to do the last.

Let the ground ‘lay fallow’ sometimes.

One of my favorite ministry leaders sends monthly letters that one might expect would ask for support but instead tell a story and relate one of God’s truths.  They bless me.  I look for them in the mail, and I have given to this organization simply because it refreshes me, in addition to the good work I believe it does.

Likewise, the national political campaigns that have raised the most money online since 2000 have been the ones that emphasize building community first and ask for money second.  (They want money, no doubt, but they know what must come first in donors’ minds.)  The most successful of these to date solicited one time for every nine news items or community messages.

Refresh your donors.

Thank them often.

And trust the sovereignty and goodness of God who—when you selflessly invest in the spiritual growth of your givers, whom he has made for a purpose—will provide for you to carry out your purpose as an organization.