High Net-Worth Generation Meets High Net-Work Generation

High Net-Worth generation meets High Net-Work Generation
How to engage that Younger Donors generation?

By Arnon Shafir

They have been called “The Young and the Generous”, (Network for Good, 2006) and either will or will not become the next generation of major donors. On the conference circuit, they are still the hottest topic. When I walked down the corridors of the G.A. in Jerusalem last year, many nonprofit executives and major donors were still discussing this challenge – and rightfully so. The real question is simply: “How do we engage our next generation of donors?”

Let’s admit it – they have other things to do, right? They are multi-taskers and have every minute of every day booked solid. So how would a baby boomer even try to explain the importance of philanthropy to today’s young professionals? How do you turn them from Lay Leaders into Social Activists? These “bright kids” who just graduated a few years ago already have so much on their plates – especially if they are part of a Jewish community.

There is no denying that major donors tend to be older and more established. They should – and often do – receive the significant amount of consideration they deserve from your Development office. However, charities must invest more time and more energy seeding the field and cultivating the next generation of Social-Impact driven donors.

The question is: How do Charities effectively engage this generation? For many young supporters, it’s not about how much they give, but how much they care about your organization. Nonprofits must find new, creative and meaningful ways to encourage younger supporters to support your cause.

Either through Tikun Olam that they can start as early as Bar/Bat Mitzah – making that a crowdfunding challenge, or an outreach to have local schools/classes compete on the leader board of Save a Child’s Heart, all the way to dreaming big visions of engaging young music fans to compete on the TOP-20 crowdfunding scoreboard for a good cause to Save the Children.

It doesn’t matter what you do – just don’t give them “more of the same.” Strive to be fresh this year. Strive to have them actively involved through gamification, motivation, philanthropic incentives, challenges and tiers they would need to work to “unlock.”

This new wave of philanthropists, Millennials, and younger generations that will follow after them, aren’t as captivated with regular mail as our traditional customary donors. These younger generations live their lives online. Sometimes, I look at my 10 year old and am terrified that he too will become a young adult who doesn’t remember to look up

We need to be direct when we take care of business with young philanthropists. To them, it is not about the extent to which you give; It is about the extent to which they care, or in their terms – “How deep can you share?” Social engagement is a very powerful way to impact more of your connections. Among other things, their Social Footprint is influenced by the number of friends engaged on Facebook and “follow” you (are influenced by you), on Twitter.

Can we somehow make younger donors begin to change their mindset about giving? Will they engage with you more, if you also include their other behaviors that show how much they care about your organization and your cause.

If you stop and think about this for a moment – if you truly ask yourself  “Can we change this?” I say, yes, we CAN. Social Activism rocks and engages this demographic. Some, like give2gether co-founders Shachar Kariv, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley and Douglas Gale, silver professor of economics at New York University have spent more than 10 years researching the behavior of this new socially-wired generation of civil-philanthropists. Their groundbreaking research in Game Theory has led them to predict back in 2007 the existence of a huge untapped potential in next generation involvement, now mainly known as the “crowd” in “crowdfunding” and “wisdom of the crowds.”

The new, up-and-coming generation of philanthropists is very different from the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers. They rather give online as opposed to attending fundraising event. They don’t donate to the same extent as well-off donors, yet their effect is noteworthy because they will rally their interpersonal connections around your cause and attempt to generate a real buzz online. That is, if you truly inspire them.

The first step to connect with your next generation of philanthropists is to understand this crowd. After analysis of thousands of profile pages created by young donors, we created this list of characteristics of this next generation of philanthropists:

  • They consume media 25/8 (no typo).
  • They are fast, and don’t like to be told that something is impossible.
  • They perceive Personal Social Responsibility (PSR) in higher esteem than corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Their attention span is shorter than 15 seconds.
  • Smart, innovative, real life fresh fundraising challenges
  • They don’t pay by check. (by the way, never will).
  • For many, their number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends are more important than the amount of money in their bank accounts.
  • They won’t donate as much money as older donors, but their impact is very significant because they will connect with their online network to support your cause.
  • They are sensitive to overhead, the ROI and the budget breakdown /per project.
  • They are passionate about their favorite causes and offer their time and energy on a continued basis.
  • They want to collect life experiences and have a sharply developed social conscience.
  • They’ll go outside of their hometowns and support causes around the world.
  • Recognition is a key motivator factor for them. Although virtual, plaques on virtual Facebook walls may be now dubbed as “badges,” yet they still feed the hunger to be acknowledged and ranked.

Based on Mr. Kariv’s research and observations, most of this generation nowadays is socially wired, very engaged and spends anywhere between two to three hours a day online in social media. In some of the recent younger generation driven campaigns, 15% of Facebook traffic converted into new donors. These young men and women can account for only 6% of your donor base, but they can sometime rally 70-75% of the total amount raised in a crowdfunding campaign.

Being 44 years old I’m now considered an “elder” to my 14-year old who is wondering, “Dad, are you still using email?” The younger generation, is a force to be reckoned with, philanthropically speaking.

Keep that in mind: “High Net-Worth” definition has evolved – If you can engage them, the depth of how far that reach can extend is as far as their Facebook Graph, their Social footprint, their Net-work.

Arnon Shafir is CEO of give2gether, an intelligent crowd-funding platform for nonprofits.