Millennials Part 2 – the Generosity Edition

Millennials Part 2 – the Generosity Edition

  Anyone can be a hipster. Hillary Ramos @ flickr.com

Here’s the latest joke going around development circles:
“When will Millennials start giving?...When they’re 45.”
Get it? What a knee-slapper. Well in fact, Millennials are giving now and they will undoubtedly be giving more in the future – to your cause – if you can keep them engaged. Cue the “Fresh Air” music, this is “Millenials, Part 2…the Generosity Edition” (maybe Terry Gross will host the podcast, what do you think?). In Part 1, we delved into the overall values of Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) and determined that they weren’t so different from non-Millennial values. Take a read here.
Back to the original joke. Here’s the truth in it: most likely, Millennials will be giving – more and more consistently – once they hit that magic 45 years of age. And it’s no surprise because that’s when those who managed to get to 45 were able to give more and more consistently. Student loans were paid off. The shock of having kids wore off (kind of). Professional lives had (hopefully) settled down. So, no shock that Millennials will also be in a different place financially once they hit middle age.
But – and it’s a big but (and I cannot lie) – will they be giving to you?
You don’t have to wait ‘til Millennials are 45 to engage with them or to be the recipient of their generosity (no matter how much it is). Because Millennials aren’t giving at the level they will be in a few years doesn’t mean that they are self-absorbed narcissists who have no interest in anything but themselves and their lattes. Far from it. In a recent article “Magnificent Millennials: Changing the World,” it’s apparent that most Millennials already donate. “Slightly over half of Millennials (52 percent) donated to a cause affiliated with a social issue in the past month. Additionally, Millennials are more likely to increase their giving year-over-year compared with other age groups.”

After analyzing five years of trends, The Millennial Impact organization found that nonprofits needed “to develop new ways of engaging audiences lest they risk being left behind as Millennial preferences fundamentally alter cause engagement.” 
Here are some of Millennial Impact’s key findings about Millennials and giving (my thoughts are in parenthesis):
1.  Intrinsic passion for a cause is Millennials’ primary motivator. (What are you offering that Millennials care about? Do you identify with one or two social justice causes that will draw in Millennials?)
2.  Millennials volunteer and give modestly to multiple causes in early engagement. (Do you offer the opportunity for Millennials to volunteer for a cause they believe in through your church or organization? Do you give them the opportunity to give to that cause? This may mean being open to some designated giving.)
3.  Among Millennials, women give more money than men, and older individuals more
than younger ones; larger donations correlate with higher total volunteer hours. (Can you find a way to meet the volunteer passion of your Millennials with the needs of the community or your congregation or nonprofit?)
4.  Peers are a critical influence on millennial giving. (Are you giving Millennials the opportunity to volunteer with other Millennials?)
5.  Millennials want to use and develop their skills through cause engagement. (Are you giving them the chance to be leaders? Are they using their skills to help others?)
6. Millennials learn about and donate to causes digitally. (How engaged are you with social media? Have you ever thought of raising designated funds for a special community project via crowdfunding?)
Clearly, there is much that non-Millennials have in common with Millennials. We all want to make our communities a better place to live. We all passionately want to change the world. But you need to be willing to listen to Millennials, engage with them, and let them have a place at the leadership table. Now is the time to make it possible for Millennials to fall in love with what you’re doing so that they’ll support your mission for the long haul. And that friends, is no joke.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She wants her own hipster ostrich. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.