How to Encourage Gen Xers and Millennials to Be Philanthropic

A millennial with a smartphone. Read about some ways to encourage Gen X and millennial charitable giving.

Photo: Shutterstock

Baby boomers are starting to move out of the forefront of charitable giving, leaving Gen X and millennials to lead the way in philanthropy. But how do you convince them to use their philanthropic dollars to benefit your organization?

First, understand that some actually do have the capability and desire to give. Gen X and millennials have often been lambasted as self-obsessed generations who don’t care about charitable giving, but if you actually talk to them, you’ll find this is no more true for them than it is for any other generation.

In addition, studies show that as people reach their 30s and 40s, they start not only having the financial resources to give but thinking about the legacy they want to leave as well, so this is a good time to reach out to them.

Look to women. According to a study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, women in almost every income bracket gave more than men.

Between careers and families, Gen Xers and millennials are still very busy people, so make it easy for them to support your organization. What does this look like? Perhaps a mobile app or a “give-by-text” campaign, or an easy-to-access online funding platform. If they have funds with your organization, give them efficient access to their fund statements through your website or a mobile portal.

Don’t just give them sob stories, tell them what you’re going to do about the problems on which you’re focusing your efforts and encourage them to give feedback. They want to know what you’re going to do to ensure that your work will be sustainable and have a long-term impact. Sharing what your strategy is and how you plan to include their voices will be a huge encouragement for them to step up.

Thank them. Gen Xers and millennials don’t need ticker tape parades and they don’t need to have their names shouted from the rooftops, but the thank-you note is even more important to them than it is to baby boomers or the generations before them. On the other hand, if they’re making a big donation and they don’t specifically say they want to be anonymous, you might want to offer a more public show of gratitude if you want to keep those dollars flowing in.

What other tips would you give organizations wanting to increase their presence with and donations from Gen Xers and millennials? Let me know in the comments.

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