June 18, 2018
Millennials Would Give More if Nonprofits Got to Know Them

February 11, 2017 — Millennials, people ages 18-34, would donate more to nonprofits, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, compared to their older counterparts, if those organizations made an effort to know them and used a mobile app to reach donors, according to a recently published report.

For nonprofits refining engagement strategies, the findings may be of particular significance, as Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest cohort in the country. According to Pew Research, in the United States today there are 83 million Millennials, 65 million Generation X (ages 35-54), and 77 million Boomers (ages 55+).

According to the "2016 Connected Nonprofit Report," published by Salesforce.org, 80% of Millennials said they would donate more to nonprofits if a nonprofit identified opportunities personalized to them, shared relevant updates on their organizations, or tracked their preferences. That compares to 74% for Gen Xers and 51% for Baby Boomers.

However, 85% of Gen Xers said they would volunteer more if they felt nonprofits "really knew" them, compared to 78% of Millennials and 64% of Baby Boomers.

Although more than half of volunteers and donors reported they do not know how their money is being spent by the organizations they support, 90% of them agreed that this is important to understand, the report noted.

Technology may be the best way to bridge this gap, as 46% of millennials said they would engage more with a nonprofit if they had a mobile app.

Members of all three age cohorts said the top three factors that would make them more willing to volunteer and donate to nonprofits are their sense of trust in the organization (76%), knowing that the nonprofit protects their data (46%), and personalized feedback that explains how their assistance helps the causes they support (46%).

All three groups donated to nonprofits in a variety of ways, including in person (51%), by mail (43%), through a website (34%), over the phone (10%), via email (9%), through a social media channel (6%), and through an organization's mobile app (5%).

Use of these channels were fairly consistent across the three age groups, with a few exceptions. Boomers used mail more than the other group: 61% vs. 32% for Gen Xers, and 24% for Millennials. And in terms of donating over the phone, Gen Xers (15%) outperformed Millennials (9%) and Boomers (7%).

Friends and family dominated the means by which supporters learned of donation and volunteer opportunities at nonprofits during the 12 months leading up to survey.

Across the board, 36% of supporters learned of opportunities through friends. However, it varied by age group: Millennials (44%), Gen Xers (39%), and Boomers (29%).

Similarly, 29% of supporters learned of opportunities through family: Millennials (37%), Gen Xers (28%), and Boomers (23%).

Use of direct mail and social media varied the most as means for learning about donation and volunteer opportunities at nonprofits.
  • 23% of supporters learned of opportunities through direct mail, as follows: Millennials (11%), Gen Xers (21%), and Boomers (32%).

  • 20% of supporters learned of opportunities through social media, as follows: Millennials (30%), Gen Xers (24%), and Boomers (11%).
The report was based on an online survey, conducted by Harris Poll, of 2,093 U.S. respondents, ages 18 and older, among whom 1,609 had supported a nonprofit in the 12 months prior to the survey, which was completed last September.

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