We’ve entered a period in philanthropy that is governed by a new set of gravitational forces. Sweeping innovations ushered in by the Information Age have produced a generation of influencers, technologies, and lifestyle trends that are remaking the philanthropic landscape in their own image — more social, decentralized, and digital.
Gen X and Millennials are set to inherit $30 trillion over the coming decades. This wealth transfer coincides with a rapid shift from traditional forms of giving, like direct mail and physical checks, toward online and mobile experiences.
Soon, clunky online donation forms and mail-order appeals may be overshadowed by more modern technologies. The challenge for nonprofits is engaging these younger donors and demographics, who’ve grown up with technology and have high expectations for the look, feel, and functionality of online platforms.
In order to stay relevant, you must adapt or fall behind. Below are some strategies to help you thrive in this fast-changing environment.
Digital natives have fueled the rise of the subscription economy and a wave of consumer conveniences ranging from one-click purchases with Amazon and micro-investments with Acorns to peer-to-peer payments like Venmo and Zelle. Adaptations of online philanthropy will require similar solutions and experiences that are contextual to the industry and also meaningful to the modern donor.
Nonprofits looking to engage donors in today’s world should be building and implementing strategies to meet these trends before falling too far behind. But don’t fret, there are plenty of opportunities out there to get started in this effort. A few examples include optimizing your online giving page, adding Amazon Smile to your “Ways to Give” page, and generally exploring the wealth of new tech-based fundraising solutions out there.
In addition to online and mobile-friendly giving pages, companies like Cheerful allow nonprofits to leverage innovative tools such as digital spare change donations in order to engage and cultivate donor communities in a fresh, yet familiar, way. This micro-recurring giving model allows donors to link a card directly to your organization, then automatically round up and donate the spare change from their everyday purchases to the nearest dollar.
For example, with an average gift of $20 a month per donor, and over 90% monthly retention, it only takes about 100 spare change donors to raise up to $20,000 per year. The psychology of the “spare change” gift also satisfies the Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z preference for longer-term involvement in creating social change without the fixed commitment of a traditional monthly donation.
Get On Their Level
Even in the face of crippling student loan debt, stagnant salaries, and increased costs of living, the average Millennial gave $580 to charity in 2018. Further, according to social fundraising data, Millennials and Gen X made up nearly 50% of all GoFundMe donors in 2017 and 82% of Millennials reported giving to a nonprofit in the previous year.
Despite having less to give than previous generations, their donations still create a tangible impact en masse, especially considering that each social share raises about $15 on average. This means that your fundraising strategy needs to have top-notch, shareable content. From your website, to donation pages, the call-to-action should be clear, concise, actionable, and shareable.
In this hyper-connected world, ideas and movements spread and flourish with astonishing force and speed. The most notable examples include the #MeToo Movement, March for Our Lives, and the unprecedented outpouring of generosity for victims in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Creating a hashtag, powerful image, or catchy slogan can help give your campaign legs on social media and other channels. Keep in mind that the vast majority of social activity occurs on mobile devices, so don’t forget to make sure your donation pages are mobile-optimized.
The moral of the story? Nonprofits should focus on providing powerful, streamlined, mobile-forward experiences if they want to capture the support of younger donors who believe in their cause and will carry it into the future.
Younger donors and generations want to be agents of change. So, give them easier ways to donate from wherever they are, both physically and financially, and make sure they can get their social networks involved, too.
If your nonprofit’s strategy is lagging behind, first evaluate the user experience of your fundraising technology and see if it meets the high standards of mobile natives. Then, determine the areas you need to shore up and where you can double down on already successful efforts. If you have any other tips please share them below in the comments!
Richie Kendall is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cheerful — the all-in-one fundraising platform for modern philanthropy. Cheerful works with many of the nations’ leading nonprofits on innovative, high-impact campaigns for social good. Connect with Richie on LinkedIn.