Using the theme of “we need, we need” as the basis of a fundraising appeal has never been one of my top recommendations. I’ve always thought such an approach was a weak argument, especially when there are so many much more powerful ones available to charities. This year, the whine of the beggar man is even more likely to fall on donors’ deaf ears.
The good news is that donors—young donors especially—intend to step up their level of giving this year (2012 Donor Survey, Cygnus). Among all age groups, donors under age 35 intend to increase their gifts at over twice the rate of those older. The bad news is that they won’t be giving it to those organizations who continue to use the tried-and-true “we’re poor and we need the money” refrain.
Although all donors respond to a charity that has strong outcomes, younger donors especially want to see results. Younger donors are also much more likely to do their homework before making the gift. They look at what the charity says about itself—online—and not at the rating agency “frugality” scores.
So, when you’re tempted to lament that the “rich just keep getting richer” pause to consider what the well-funded nonprofit organizations are actually doing rather than what they are getting. Philanthropy is not a fixed pie. Almost half of younger donors are willing to give more if they see worthy outcomes and are asked for larger gifts.