Today, I’m live blogging a few sessions from the 2011 Millennial Donor Summit. This session focuses on Millennial Donors, with Angela White from JGA presenting.

What did they find out in the Millennial Donor Report?

Last year, we did research on Millennial donors and it spurred us to do it again. Giving, communication and engagement are the three areas of research.

Had respondents from nearly 3,000 participants, 20-35 year olds, with more than 90% with a college degree (nearly half pursued graduate studies and 37% had graduate degrees). The survey was distributed online only.


They found that when looking at giving, 93% of respondents made a donation in the last year.However, 58% said their largest gift was less than $100. 10% said they gave single gifts larger than $1,000. Millennials are giving small amount to multiple organizations.

This year’s research followed last year’s findings.

58% said they gave because of a personal request. Personal contact is important. The next biggest way to give was online on organization’s website. However, we also asked how they would prefer to give. 49% said they gave via a website, but 58% said they would prefer that way.

Compelling mission or cause for your organization is motivation to give for 85% of respondents, and 56% said personal connection and trust in the leadership/organization. 52% said they gave if their friends or family endorse the organization.

What influences trust? 77% said that if family or friends recommend an organization, they trust the organization. 70% said trust was in understanding financial information and how their donation would be used. 63% said they wanted to meet the organization’s leadership.

When are you likely to donate? 60% said they are very likely to donate if they trust the organization, 43% said very likely if it was a specific project or purpose. 41% said very likely if there was a matching gift.

What makes you stop donating? 79% very likely NOT to give if they don’t trust the organization. 37% said likely and 38% very likely that they would stop if the organization asked too often.

Only 28% of respondents said they would participate in a giving circle but only 22% rejected the notion outright. 50% said they weren’t sure what it is.


71% said they learn about organizations through web searches (like Google). 62% said email communications from the organization and 56% said peer endorsement from family/friends. 70% say that when they first visit your website they want to know about your mission and history, and 56% want to know about your financial condition. People want transparency. 65% want an organizatoin’s website to explain how support will make a difference.

43% said they wanted communication monthly, 32% said quarterly, 10% weekly, 11% yearly. 79% said they want updates on programs and services. 70% want to know about volunteer opportunities. 56% want information about fundraising events and about activities for your professionals. Communication preference is email.


How do Millennials want to be engaged? Interested in activities with your organization that involve others: dinner with entertainment, private events, social parties with peers, sports and walk/runs. These are also opportunities for them to connect with leadership from the organization.

How often do Millennials volunteer? 44% said a few times per year, 12% once a month, 18% a few times a month, 14% once a week or more, 12% ones a year. The primary obstacle to volunteering being a lack of time.

61% said they want to volunteer with friends and family, 56% said they want an organized group. 44% said they wanted to volunteer on their own.

Young Professional Groups – 40% said they would be interested in joining a young professional organization. Why: 80% said they would join if there was a compelling mission or cause, 77% said for networking and socialization, 75% said professional development.

What does this mean?


Multichannel approach: direct mail still works, with a life of about 4-6 weeks. Email is core, but only has a life of about 6 hours. Strongly consider using peers and personal solicitation.

Smaller requests with appropriate frequency – Millennials said they want to hear from organizations, but not get asks all of the time (want info on programs and services monthly).

We know Millennials respond to face to face, the reality of getting out and talking to people to get a $50 gift is often not prioritized by staff – so have it be a peer to peer thing/event/group where they are asking each other.

They recommend you begin with email before you branch into social media, like facebook or mobile. Don’t start with broadcast, you need to engage and connect. Connecting via email is engagement. Work on soliciting a response via email.

Email: asking for $50 or less with a very timely message. Make your call to action in the email a button, including donation call outs. End your email with a call to action. What we see clients try to do is reformat their direct mail content into an email – that does not work.

Talk to Millennials about your goals, for example if you are trying to do something big and raise a large amount of money, break the goal and gifts down into smaller buckets so it isn’t overwhelming. Track your open rates and conversions (do they open the email and then do they actually make a gift) – open rates are important to measure, not just conversions and gifts.

As an example, visit the the ASPCA website – show small gift amounts, provide buttons, focus on impact and have used email campaigns to drive people to website for gifts

Using Google and other search engines is the most common way Millennials find you. Make sure you see how your organization comes up in search results.

Help Millennial donors experience your cause online. How do we tell our story and also engage Millennials virtually? Instead of printed annual reports, try doing a video with interview and clips from what you’ve done the last year. Engage your Millennials as guest bloggers.

As examples, check out Conservation International. They show how a donor has protected an acre of forest and provides ways for people to engage with the website and the mission. Another example is Team Fox, with it’s peer to peer fundraising.


Millennials want to change the world and want to be challenged. Organizations need to create a challenge or they will go somewhere else. Ask them to think with us, plan with us, build with us. Share the challenges and the problems we want to tackle and asking them to join us in the whole process instead of just asking them to fund something.

Leadership interaction is important for Millennials. It isn’t that we need to organize them, but we need to facilitate ways for them to organize themselves.

Get the full Millennial Donor Report

You can get the full report, review charts and data, and more at:

Live blogging from the 2011 Millennial Donor Summit: Exploring the Latest Millennial Research
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