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June 08, 2016 | AUTHOR:

Millennials and their Influence on Philanthropy

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Millennials (born between 1980 and 1999) are the largest living generation, totaling 80 million in the US alone. They will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and will be on the receiving end of the projected $30 trillion wealth transfer that is underway. It is impossible to escape the influence that Millennials are having in every facet of society.

Charitable giving is one place where Millennials are already making their mark. Almost 85 percent of them gave charitably in 2014 and 70 percent volunteered. Seventy-seven percent of millennials reported they’re more likely to volunteer when they can use their specific skills to benefit a charity or cause, which indicates a desire to maximize their philanthropic impact.

There are a number of qualities that describe Millennials and carry over into their giving: they are tech-savvy, social beings who are motivated by outcomes. In an increasingly interconnected world, new technology is making it easier to access information and, more importantly, give at the click of a mouse (or the swipe of a smartphone!). Online giving is increasing and 62 percent of Millennials prefer to give through their mobile device.

Not surprisingly, Millennials are active on social media—90 percent own smartphones and 51 percent say they are mostly or always online and connected. Data tells us that sharing news of an online gift or fundraiser on social media can increase philanthropy. For example, in an average peer-to-peer fundraising campaign that is shared on Facebook, 15-18 percent of donations are referred directly from that site. Similarly, average total online donations to a fundraiser increase ten-fold by incorporating Twitter.

This social sharing has given rise to some of the charitable sector’s most innovative strategies. #GivingTuesday, founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York and other cohorts, is one such effort that used social media—and their active Millennial subscribers—to launch a sustainable, replicable day of giving.  #GivingTuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is a day dedicated to giving back. The social aspects of #GivingTuesday have allowed it to spread far and fast. It has been adopted in 71 different countries in just four years. Each year, online fundraising has seen dramatic spikes (up an estimated 470% since inception) on #GivingTuesday and the hashtag had almost 1.3 million social media mentions. Millennials gravitate towards movements like #GivingTuesday because they are simple, social and produce data-reported outcomes.

Understanding what drives Millennials in their daily lives will help those who work with them, advise them or want them to give understand how to speak to them. Millennials give charitably and are socially conscious. Fundraisers, nonprofits, professional advisors and others can use that knowledge to initiate conversations about where Millennials’ passions are and how they can reach their goals—financial, professional, charitable—over time. 

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