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Catalogue Blog

The New Face of Philanthropy

Yesterday, the Meyer Foundation hosted a workshop about a recent report on next generation philanthropists: #NextGenDonors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy. The report, a project of 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, surveyed thousands of high-capacity Millennial and Gen X donors (ages 21-40) in the United States. High level findings from the report show that next gen donors:

1. Conduct due diligence and do research before deciding whom to support.
2. Decide philanthropic goals or ideal solutions first, and then search for potential recipients who fit those
3. Fund efforts that address root causes and attempt systemic solutions
4. Prefer to have information about an organization’s proven effectiveness or measurable impact before deciding whether to support it
5. Often recommend a cause or organization to others

Many of the other trends that emerged from yesterday’s conversation include the importance of technology in engaging and cultivating donors (like the preference for email or online communications over printed mail) and the importance of demonstrating impact and outcomes. However, I find that these are the same trends that are currently discussed in conversations about “today’s donor” and not just the “30 year old, high capacity donor.”

At the Catalogue, we try to look at all emerging trends in philanthropy from the lens of a small nonprofit. One question at the event yesterday hit the nail on the head, in terms of recognizing the impact of a new donor profile for the small nonprofits with restricted resources and capacity – what does this all mean for us? How do we balance our current donor outreach with the type of specific engagement that is suggested for next generation donors…and continue offering the services and programs that our clients need? There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the budget.

Not many donors are directly asked to reflect on the constraints that small nonprofits face and consider how this might impact their donor outreach. But for donors who admittedly have a preference or inclination towards the start-ups or little guys, perhaps they should be. It’s a tough question to consider for someone who isn’t immersed in the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit with a budget under $2 or $3 million (or even under $500,000). Obviously certain aspects, like a well-structured and aesthetically pleasing website, are must-have’s for today’s tech savvy world, but other types of donor personalization might be out of reach for an organization with a limited development team. This is gap that the Catalogue attempts to fill – addressing the information asymmetry in the philanthropy marketplace by allowing small nonprofits’ best versions to shine and connecting them to donors with whom those stories resonate.

How does your nonprofit attempt to engage millennial or next gen donors? Do you have specific outreach for this demographic? Let us know what you think!

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