75% of Generation Y making charitable contributions

A recent study indicates that 75% of Millenials give to charity, putting their shoulder to the grindstone with their volunteer hours and making financial donations as well.

DALLAS, June 27, 2012 – While magazines focus on the latest smart phone and fashion trends, there’s a less noticed but much more encouraging trend on the rise: the charitable giving of Millenials. 

A recent study indicates that 75% of Millenials give to charity, putting their shoulder to the grindstone with their volunteer hours and making financial donations as well. 

The study, conducted collaboratively by Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA), examines not only the giving habits of young adults but also the process they go through to make a gift.

Most respondents were passionate about volunteering and giving, and they are doing so through many groups ranging from large organizations like Habitat for Humanity to smaller grass roots organizations within their communities.  Here are some tips to keep your favorite charity relevant to young adults—the future of your donor base. 

Be transparent with financials. According to the study, 43% of those surveyed looked at how funds were being used. This is important for getting the initial gift as well as for encouraging continued giving. 

“NPOs must make strong connections between the donation and the impact and be fastidious about the follow-up reporting. Organizations that do this well are finding themselves perfectly positioned for a generational shift,” says Jeff Giddens of Pursuant Ketchum, a nonprofit fundraising agency. 

There isn’t a better example than charity: water. Take their 100% model. 100% of their public donations fund clean water projects in the field 100% of the time. And it works. In just five years, the young organization has raised $50 million from 250,000+ donors, many fitting into the demographic of this study.

Be active in recruiting volunteers.  Take a look at any non-profit, and you’ll always find a strong correlation between volunteering and giving.

The study shows that by a margin of two-to-one, volunteers are more likely to make donations to an organization with which they work. 81% of those surveyed preferred to be approached from peers, so ensuring your volunteer-experience is captivating is essential to recruiting more.  

Invest in social media. Many non-profits struggle with the concept of social media. Few can claim a consistent positive return on investment off of this evolving medium, so C-level executives often allocate funds in channels that return consistent results—such as direct mail or major donor counsel.

But non-profits have a unique advantage that your average organization doesn’t. Non-profits impact communities and the world every day, and nine out of ten times, they can show that impact with pictures, data and sound bites. Impact-driven communication creates engaging conversations. 

Secondly, while young adults do not heavily donate through social media, they continue to connect heavily with each other and with ideas through social media.  The more often they are visually reminded of the good work of an organization, the more solid their opinion of the importance of their gift becomes.

Tell a story. The visual impact of a non-profit is powerful. Accompanied with social media, nonprofits are able to create a culture of transparency through continuous visual storytelling.   

“As social media engagement increases with your nonprofit, so must the participant’s emotional investment. Using tools such as short films to engage and inspire, the organization’s passionate donor has never been more closely connected,” says Josh Read, a non-profit branding consultant.

Donors and volunteers rarely want stats. They want to feel good about themselves. The truth of the matter is that people don’t only give for an organization’s benefit. They give for their own—so they can cuddle up to their thoughtful and generous self at night. 

Numbers don’t stir that feeling. Stories do.

“Beyond all the trends and truths about Millennials that marketers are familiar with, do not neglect the power of a compelling narrative. When non-profits provide a noteworthy experience, Millennials are prone to share stories, including those about volunteering or donating,” said Chris Stemborowski of Oxford Communications.

Bottom Line

Millenials want to give, they want to be inspired, and they want to connect.  Use your best assets—your stories and your people—to invest in Millenials so that they will invest in you.


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Tommy Swanson

Tommy Swanson is the Co-Founder of Think Stripes, a content marketing and brand storytelling agency. He works with nationally recognized NPOs and businesses on developing their online marketing strategy. Swanson is also a serial entrepreneur, having started and sold several companies in his early teens. You can find him at @tommyswanson.  

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