‘Most recent gift value’ has the greatest influence on fundraising, even though it is the weakest piece of statistical information. Gift value influences the timing and quality of acknowledgment of donors’ contributions and, most important, determines whether supporters will or will not receive meaningful communication on their gifts at work. Since these things, more than anything else, drive donors’ desire to stay loyal and give more generously, it’s logical to conclude that people whose gift values are defined by fundraising as “modest” are statistically more likely to either stop giving entirely or make ongoing contributions that are well below their potential.
This seems to be particularly true of younger donors. In my company’s recent national survey on how the recession is affecting Americans’ philanthropy, 12.6% of respondents (2200) were under the age of 35. Their total average giving in 2008 was $1613, a mere 12% of the total average contributions of older donors at $13,200. But if you set average gift value aside and look at other factors, young donors’ ability and willingness to give might surprise you.
Here are a few facts that you might not be taking into account:
- 69% of donors under the age of 35 are professionals, academics, owners, managers or entrepreneurs
- 47% earn over $70,000 (52% if you look only at donors between 25 and 34 who are less likely to still be in college)
- 70% are not supporting dependents
If I hadn’t told you the age of this group, would you be looking at them differently?
And, here’s a few of the other things we found:
- 62% of young donors plan to maintain or increase their giving in 2009 – more than any other age group in the study
- young donors are significantly more open to giving to a cause that they had never supported before, even in a severe recession
- young donors are more likely to give through technology-driven appeals that are less costly to operate and which produce higher average gift values (such as online giving.)
- young donors are more likely to engage in fundraising programs where they give and volunteer or generate gifts from others at the same time (such as participating in a pledge-based community fundraising event.)
And, speaking of volunteering, approximately two thirds of young donors were volunteering at the time they took part in our survey, or within the past twelve months – the same percentage as for all other study donors – but only 10% were sitting on Boards of Directors, vs 29% of all other donors who volunteer.
I’ll leave you to contemplate these two questions:
- Do young donors give substantially less because they can’t give more or because substantially less is expected of them?
- Do fewer young donors sit on Boards because they don’t want their voices heard or because they can’t get their voices heard within structures designed for another generation?
What’s my opinion? I think they need to be noticed…then they need to be accommodated…then they need to be inspired.
In the fall, Penelope will be exploring the subject of young donors and philanthropy as well as many other intriguing findings of her company’s research in the series of full-day seminars, From Peril to Profit. Please click here for information on cites, dates, and registration information.