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The world of fundraising is rapidly evolving along with the demographics of donor prospects. You may or may not be surprised to learn that Millennials and Gen Xers now constitute more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce. Though estimates suggest that Millennials won’t take the lead with charitable giving until 2030, it’s imperative that fundraisers pay close attention to what motivates this generation of donors to give.
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Over the past decade there has been a shift in the distribution of wealth among generations. Young tech titans have emerged from the technology and telecommunications boom and accumulated an aggregated net worth of $800 billion. The Chan Zuckerberg initiative, launched by the founder of Facebook and his wife, is a key example of how this redistribution has translated to the world of philanthropy. Chan and Zuckerberg committed an astonishing $3 billion over the next 10 years to help cure, prevent and manage all disease in our children’s lifetime. Although most Millennials and Gen Xers do not have the ability to donate such large sums, they do have an enormous impact on the future philanthropic landscape.
Millennials and Gen Xers share a deep-rooted desire to commit time and resources toward social initiatives. An astounding 84% of Millennials donated to various charities in 2014, averaging annual gifts of $481. Gen Xers are similarly generous, gifting $465 annually. Blackbaud notes that children’s charities are more popular than any other cause, trailed by religious-based and health-related causes.
Millennials and Gen Xers tend to follow two giving patterns. The first is impulse-driven – whether it’s donating a couple of dollars at the grocery store checkout or giving change to the Salvation Army bell ringer. The second is a tendency to support issues with social visibility. A recent example is the Ice Bucket Challenge sponsored by the ALS Association. Many people did not plan to support ALS last year. However, the non-profit raised $115 million through a viral marketing campaign launched through social media. The ALS campaign is a powerful testament to the power of peer influence via social media.