Yes, Young People Don’t Trust Charities—But DonorSearch Can Help You Fix That

As if the non-profit economy wasn’t in enough trouble. Between navigating a difficult economy, rampant inflation, and a decline in total giving, it has a new problem: figuring out how to win over young people who don’t look at nonprofits the same way as their parents and grandparents. Luckily, DonorSearch has an effective plan to ensure that the chain of American generosity is not broken.

First, here’s more info on the problem. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported on an analysis of giving by age published by the GivingTuesday Data Commons. As the Chronicle notes, there are clear signals in the data that mean nonprofits must adjust their approach to the younger demographic:

…Older people expressed more trust in nonprofits and were more likely to donate, while younger folks doubted “the efficiency and reliability of charities” and gave more informally, which is described as direct giving to individuals or unregistered groups rather than to a registered nonprofit. The report notes that younger people over all are more generous globally, but formal giving to charities varies by age and country. Charities should explore those differences.

         The differences in philanthropy between generations is a key subject in The Generosity Crisis, co-authored by DonorSearch Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell. In the book, Chappell explains that many young people are interested in adding an experiential aspect to their giving back. For example, a charity focused on cleaning up rivers may offer a kayak tour of their project.

As Chappell explained to us, “Young people expect nonprofits to tailor their offerings to their interests, whether it is volunteering and physical interaction, or in emerging technologies like virtual reality and crypto. They expect this personalization because it’s what they are getting from the for-profit economy.”

         Interestingly, the parallels between GivingTuesday’s analysis and The Generosity Crisis don’t end there. The organization’s Chief Data Officer, Woodrow Rosenbaum, explains: “If we want to engage people more in charitable giving, then we need to have a broader understanding about what motivates somebody to give.” The fundraising expert continues, “This means that there’s an opportunity and a need to be less transactional and to give your supporters more ways to get involved in your mission. That means not always asking for money is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the money.”

The shift away from transactional giving and towards a deeper connection between nonprofits and their community happens to be the primary focus of the second half of The Generosity Crisis, which explores solutions. The book labels the type of pronounced, visceral affinity that turns community members into lifelong donors as Radical Connection.

To be sure, forming Radical Connection within your organization’s community is the solution to the generosity crisis, especially when it comes to appealing to the youth. When your community is deeply engaged, especially youngsters, your worthy cause aligns with how they identify as people—resulting in not only more financial gifts, but also volunteering and other contribution forms, like becoming an evangelist for your cause. It can also lead to many a young person getting more experientially involved in giving back.

The lingering question is: “How do you find such individuals?”

This question may seem daunting, but it is answerable once DonorSearch applies the power of AI and customized algorithms to it. DonorSearch and its advanced AI and machine learning tech is able to generate actionable data for your community. We determine what most engages your people, whether they are current donors, or not even on your radar as prospects. Moreover, we go far beyond wealth data in identifying those community members you should be communicating with, which is especially vital in the case of young people, who may have wealth in new asset forms, like cryptocurrency and/or prefer to donate via GoFundMe and/or other innovative platforms.

The importance of locating highly engaged community members who might otherwise be overlooked cannot be overemphasized. Thankfully, the non-profit economy is waking up to this very fact. Jane Wales, vice president of the Aspen Institute and co-chair of the Generosity Commission, told the Chronicle: “We spent so much of our time and so much of our attention on the quadrupling of foundations, the ballooning DAFs by sixfold, and on ultra-high net-worth individuals. But the community organizations that are supported by the everyday givers and the actual volunteers—those that are serving on PTAs, that are coaching urban sports groups, that are mentoring struggling youth—build our capacity to solve problems. They need attention, too.”

         To this end, DonorSearch uses customized algorithms to find the community members that pass through the net of traditional wealth screening. As Executive Vice President and DonorSearch Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco explains, “Wealth screening can certainly determine if an individual is wealthy, unless they are a young person whose wealth may be concentrated in new assets like Bitcoin. What it can’t do is locate the members of your community who are deeply engaged and ready to become the donors of tomorrow. DonorSearch solves this challenge by using AI to apply an algorithm with dozens of variables to the question of what engages your community and who is most engaged today. Many organizations would be surprised to know about the treasure chest of engagement they already have… just locked away.”

To learn how we can help your organization engage with younger community members, contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you are an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for future successes daily, consider a career with DonorSearch.

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