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Selling Placebos

All nonprofit organizations are worthy causes, right? Wrong. Time was, all a nonprofit had to do was craft the glowing mission statement, reach out to prospective donors and allow the power of the message to bring in the revenue. Good intentions and some semblance of success worked very well. Not a unique fundraising idea, but it certainly worked. Until now.

Times have changed.

Some will say it’s the increased competition of so many nonprofits on the scene. Some might say it’s the cynicism among donors created from some of the incidents of fraud in the nonprofit community. Some might even suggest people have become less generous—more “me” focused.

I say it’s not any of these. The single most significant change in the fundraising landscape is the emergence of the millennial generation. Unlike my generation or that of my parents, these motivated young people are demanding, like none before them, both engagement and accountability from nonprofits they support.

The millennial generation is more charitably active than any previous generation we know of. They make charitable gifts at a 17 point level higher than the general population. They volunteer their time at a comparable rate.

The unique fundraising idea is to shape and hone your fundraising program to attract and retain millennial donors. It’s not hard—but probably different from what you do now.

Millennials see their giving in small, periodic installments building over time. Invest a little and see what you get, is their slogan.

Millennials want the charities they support to be totally financially transparent. They want that transparency readily available to them, preferably a mobile device, not in a dusty auditor’s report.

Millennials expect nonprofits to take their real outcomes—not their programs—very seriously. Oh, and by the way, don’t bore me with the lengthy report but text message the essentials to me.

Finally, millennials are like the rest of us, as they love to hear the real-life story of a personal transformation. Philanthropy is reduced to the single person. Now there’s a unique fundraising idea.

To sum up, think monthly giving. Be totally honest—the good, the bad and the ugly—and tell a good story.

Principle 1 of The Eight Principles™ is Donors are the Drivers™. Like never before, the millennials are driving philanthropy through their values and visions.

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