Reaching Younger Donors

For financial sustainability, it's important that your organization cultivate a broad base of donors, including younger people, who will donate more as they grow older. How can you reach these younger donors?

As volunteers

Many younger people may not have the means to give (much) now, but you can involve them as volunteers as a first step. Consider your organization's cause, and identify college/university or young professional groups with an interest in your work. (For example, the Physicians for Human Rights organization at the University of Minnesota is a natural fit for CVT.) Many college/university classes have service learning requirements or opportunities that could lead young people with an interest in your work to your organization. Remember, specific "asks" tend to resonate best. For example, ask for in-kind gifts, or time needed for a particular project to benefit certain people, as opposed to a general ask.

In a group

Consider starting a young professional or student group in your organization as one of your volunteer opportunities. These groups bring people together to socialize and network while exploring and promoting your organization and mission. They provide a casual, low-pressure setting to introduce your organization's work to new people -- and to their expanded network, which you might not have otherwise reached. Potential group activities include:

  • Hosting fundraisers or needs drives:
    • Concert to benefit your organization
    • BBQ where each guest brings an in-kind donation
    • Walk or run in support of your organization
  • Raising awareness:
    • Film screening
    • Happy hour with a guest speaker from your organization

Through corporations

Many large corporations that employ younger people have matching gift programs where staff can contribute to a charitable organization of their choice. See if these corporations ever host informational sessions or "lunch and learns" for their staff, and see if they would be interested in hosting a representative from your organization to learn more about your work. By getting on employees' radar, they may consider you for corporate match or payroll deduction charitable giving opportunities.  As they progress in their career, the amount they contribute may grow as well.

Through media that they already use

Don't expect your donors to come to you. Reach out to them, communicating with them how they communicate. Explore all social media channels that are appropriate for your organization (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, other blog formats). Develop an engaging interactive website (with mobile capability). Build an email list to keep people up to date and engaged. But remember: while these tools (social media, email) are a direct route to younger donors and help to keep them frequently engaged, don’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face, real life communication either. This is why building a relationship, usually as a volunteer first, is important.

Other thoughts on how to reach out to younger donors? Add them in comments below!

-- Many thanks to Steven Hall, CVT Development Assistant, for his insights into reaching younger donors

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