Did you see it? Did you see the front page news in USA Today Monday on Monday, April 22, 2013? The article by Hadley Malcolm was headlined “Millennials show no e-fear“. In a nutshell, this entire article boils down to one simple idea. We are going through an economic paradigm shift, and we’re moving to something economists are calling “The Participation Economy“. I believe fundraising and non-profit professionals need to pay attention because this will likely have a HUGE impact on the future of philanthropy.
So, what is “The Participation Economy“? Jeff Fromm, who is a blogger at Millennial Marketing and co-author of Marketing to Millennials (ugh … how old fashion . . . a book . . . what is THAT?), really describes it well when he says in USA Today:
“They’re (millennials) willing to accept advertising, but they want something out of it. The willingness to share where we are, who we’re with, what we like with the virtual world is part of ‘the participation economy’.”
The reporter dug up some interesting data from the University of Southern California’s Center for the Digital Future:
- 25% of Millennials would trade personal info in exchange for more relevant advertising (for those of us 35+ years old only 19% agreed with this statement)
- 56% of Millennials would share their location to receive deals from nearby businesses (for those of us 35+ years old only 42% agreed with this statement)
- 51% of Millennials would share info with a company if they get something in return (for those of us 35+ years old only 40% agreed with this statement)
Consumers are willing to “participate” if they get something in return, and this especially applies to younger consumers (aka people who will have the money in the not-so-distant-future).
If you want more proof, I suggest that you turn on your television set. The shows that people tune into most are participatory (e.g. American Idol, The Voice, etc).
What does any of this have to do with your non-profit and your resource development program? Well, here are just a few of my thoughts:
- Millennials live their lives in both the physical world as well as in the virtual world. Fundraising programs will need to set-up shop in both spaces in the future.
- Ten years ago, many of my fundraising colleagues warned against over-investing in ePhilanthropy strategies because Millennial donors were young and years away from participating in serious philanthropy. Well, the oldest Millennials are now 34-years-old. Uh-oh! I think “the future” is knocking on the door. It might be time to get serious about what ePhilanthropy looks like and what strategies and tactics are effective.
- The idea of PARTICIPATION holds the key to engagement for this up-and-coming generation of philanthropists. So, it stands to reason that if you want Millennials to take the place of their Baby Boomer parents over the next 10 years, then your resource development program can’t simply treat donors like Cash Station machines (ATM). We need to get beyond the “you ask and then you get” mentality. We need to shift our paradigm to “you involve, you ask, they give, and they stay involved“.
At first blush, we’re obviously talking about volunteerism being the key to engaging the next generation and developing your future base of donors. Here are a few interesting resources for those of you who understand that you have some work to do around strengthening your agency’s volunteer recruitment and management program:
However, I think focusing on your volunteer recruitment, management and retention program and strategies is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here is a crazy thought out of left field. What if you and a handful of Millennial aged supporters sat down and asked the question: “How do we build great participation (both physical and virtual) strategies into our resource development program?” Here are a few wacky questions and ideas to chew on:
- How can your agency partner with the business community to entice Millennial consumers (aka donors) to “check-in” on Facebook or Foursquare at a local business. What benefit will the business get out of it? What benefit will your agency get out of it? What benefit will the consumer (aka donor) get out of it? How can the business and your agency share that data? What will you do with it once you have it? For some reason, I am envisioning a scavenger hunt fundraiser. I am also envisioning passports with QR codes linked to YouTube videos containing clues, instructions and cultivation/stewardship info.
- How can you get your Millennial aged donors to participate in the act of allocating where their donation goes? Are we at the threshold of entering “The Restricted Gift” era? What can you do to involve donors as volunteers in programs that their contribution helps support?
- What tools will your fundraising volunteers need in their toolbox if they are going to evangelize you mission online and solicit people in the virtual world? Will those strategies need to look different than the current structured campaigns we’ve been running in the physical world? If so, what accountability and urgency strategies will fundraising professionals need to develop in order to drive productivity?
Does your head hurt? I know mine does. So, let’s focus on one simple question: ”What two or three things can you and your agency do to start transitioning your resource development program into alignment with the new ‘Participation Economy’?” Please scroll down and share a few thoughts in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
Welcome to O.D. Fridays at DonorDreams blog. Every Friday for the foreseeable future we will be looking at posts from John Greco’s blog called “johnponders ~ about life at work, mostly” and applying his organizational development messages to the non-profit community.
In a post titled “Survival Is Not Mandatory,” John talks about our always changing world and workplaces and how we need to evolve in order to remain viable and relevant. His conclusions are simple: 1) Evolve or die and 2) Survival is not mandatory.
Sometimes timing is everything. When I read this blog post, I was on the treadmill with my new iPad with Morning Joe on the television in the background. The television talking heads were droning on about marijuana legalization and they flashed the following graphic on the screen:
My first reaction was “Huh, it’s interesting that the opinion lines recently crisscrossed.” My second reaction was “Hmmmm, where have I seen another graphic like that?” And within moments, I remembered that the other similar graphic was this one about same-sex marriage:
These two thoughts were colliding in my mind as my feet trudged along on the treadmill, and then my eyes went back to my iPad and John’s blog post about change. My first thought was “What is driving all of this immediate change so quickly?” And my second thought was “I wonder what implications these trends may have for non-profit organizations, fundraising, resource development and philanthropy?” Almost immediately, I remembered seeing the following chart in a Giving USA Spotlight newsletter:
It was at this point I realized the meteor has hit our planet, the weather patterns are changing, and change is starting to happen rapidly. The change we’re experiencing in our society is exponential.
If you are scratching your head and find yourself saying “HUH,” then I encourage you to look more carefully at the previous graphic. The oldest members of the Millennial generation are already in their 30s. Combine this with the fact that the Millennial generation is almost as large as the Baby Boomer generation (e.g. 79 million Boomers vs. 75 million Millennials) and then factor in the 51 million GenXers, and you have the recipe for rapid change.
Still not convinced? The consider the fact that every day for the next 19 years it is estimated that 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire EVERY DAY. In 2014, Millennials will make up 26% of the workplace and this number will soar to 36% by 2020.
Let’s face the grim realities here:
- Every single day there are a number of Silent/Greatest generation and Baby Boomer generation individuals who are dying and retiring.
- Every single day there are a number of Millennials who reach voting age and enter the workforce.
LOL . . . I am reminded of that famous quotation by Ross Perot speaking to that “giant sucking sound”. In this instance, I don’t think we’re talking about NAFTA. In this example, that giant sucking sound is the vacuum being filled by Millennials.
So, what is the end result? What does all of this mean for non-profit organizations? Fundraising? Philanthropy?
Well, I am not a fortune-teller, but the following thoughts have crossed my mind:
- The workplace characteristics for non-profit organizations will change quickly.
- The donor profile will change quickly.
- The client profile will also change quickly.
I suspect most “best practices” won’t change (e.g. face-to-face solicitation is the most effective way to secure donations), but I can imagine that strategies and tactics need to adapt and evolve. For example . . .
- We know that once a donor retires their charitable giving habits seem to change. With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, I suspect resource development plans need to evolve because at this point in time Boomers make up the bulk of most agencies donor databases. (Did you know that 69% of Boomers donate to charity compared to 33% of Millennials? Source: Center on Philanthropy Panel Study)
- We know that direct mail is effective with Baby Boomers much more so than it is with Millennials.
- I suspect that fewer Millennials physically own checkbooks than their Baby Boomer counterparts.
(I wonder how eBanking impacts traditional charitable giving systems?)
- We know that Millennials volunteer at higher rates than any other generation.
John ends his post by simply stating “But survival is not mandatory.” This revelation is striking because it causes me to wonder: Which non-profits are going to adapt? Which agencies are going to die? How will those who survive evolve and adapt? When will that process start? When will resource development plans start to reflect these changes? Who will step up and lead on these issues?
If you are feeling overwhelmed, I can appreciate that, but paralysis is the enemy of evolution and adapting.
My best suggestion to those of you who don’t know what to do or how to proceed is commit yourself to learning more. Click here to read a great publication titled “Charitable Giving and the Millennial Generation” from the Giving USA Foundation at The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University. There are a lot of great “AH-HA” moments in this publication. Hopefully, it will get you and your organization pointed in the right direction.
As many of you know, I am a GenXer. As I finish this blog post, I suddenly have a song running through my head and I can’t get it to stop. Upon a little reflection, I now realize that this song is my generation’s anthem and characterizes our lifelong struggle with Baby Boomers and Millennials. Click here if you want to get inside my head and enjoy what I am sure will become my generation’s rally cry. ;-)
Please scroll down to the comment box and weigh-in with any thoughts you may have about the questions I posed a few paragraphs ago. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
At the end of 2011, I predicted in a year-end blog post that we would see an “increased focus by non-profit organizations on pursuing and securing charitable contributions by using online strategies and tactics resources“. Last week, I thought it would be fun to look back and determine if my prognostications where off-the-mark and by how much.
Here is some of what I found:
- online giving continues to climb . . . in fact, the growth numbers continue to be double digit;
- more people are turning to online ways to donate at the end of the year; and
- according to surveys more non-profit leaders are saying they believe online is the future.
In reality, I didn’t need to do much clicking around to find evidence that ePhilanthropy is a real long-term trend. All you need to do is open your eyes and look around. In just the last few days, this is some of what I saw:
- A St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital billboard driving home last night, and it simply told me to go online and make a contribution.
- An advertisement in a city bus vestibule for the Red Cross, and it simply told me to go online and give.
- My email inbox continually gives me stuff from non-profit organizations, and everything I read simply says “click here and donate now”.
If you trust your eyes, you know that online giving is a trend and will go on to become a very important part of every fundraising professional’s toolbox.
However, you may want to take careful note of what I just said and how I said it.
I did not say that ePhilanthropy is the future. Nor did I say that ePhilanthropy is how we will fundraising in the future. I deliberately used the words “a very important part“.
Some of the data that I’ve seen indicates that online giving tools (e.g. email, website, social media, crowdfunding, etc) are simply an “acquisition strategy“. For example, Steve McLaughlin at Blackbaud, points out that one-third of donors who make a donation online actually go offline the next year to renew their support.
I believe we should all look at this data point and double-down on cross-channel communication and promotion of our fundraising efforts. Tell people online where to mail a check. Tell people in your direct mail letter how to go online and make a contribution. In both your emails and letters, tell donors who they can call to talk to a real person or set-up an appointment.
Are you interested in learning a lot more about online giving? The following are just a few links that I came across while clicking around online:
- Blackbaud Index of Online Giving
- 5 Biggest Trends in Online Giving (Slide Share presentation by Steve McLaughlin at Blackbaud)
- Online Fundraising Stats and Trends for Nonprofits (blog by Kivi Leroux Miller)
What do your eyes see around you in your community when it comes to online giving? Here is a fun game that you can play today. Keep your eyes open for evidence in the world around you for evidence of this ePhilanthropy trend. Make a mental note of it, and then circle back around to this blog post and share one or two examples of what you saw in the comment section below.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. YouTube is for more than just cute cat videos. In fact, YouTube is home to web networks, political commentary, educational videos and . . . OK, maybe some of the most adorable cats you’ve ever seen. If your organization is not on YouTube you’re missing a great opportunity to reach a new audience. In today’s post, let’s look at how YouTube can be a great resource for a nonprofit in today’s social media savvy society.
Well, think about it. Have you looked at a YouTube video yet today? If not, I’m sure you’ll see one posted in your news feed on Facebook that will catch your eye. The point is that YouTube is a place people go to find videos that are about topics important to them. YouTube is a familiar site for people. When people think of videos on the internet, they think of YouTube.
YouTube has a built-in audience. Many people don’t just go to YouTube for one video, they will often find a video that was linked to their video that they find interesting and watch that one too.Why not use this familiarity, and automatic audience to your advantage and make sure your organization has a YouTube Channel?
Once you’ve decided that YouTube is a network for your organization, it’s really simple to get started. All you have to do is sign up. Every YouTube user is given a channel where she can upload videos. This channel’s name is customizable. You will want to make sure that your organization’s channel name is easy to remember and recognizable to your organization.
The background of your channel is also customizable. You can upload banner graphics and change the color scheme to match your agency’s logo.
Beyond the cosmetic changes, make sure you take the time to fully fill-out your YouTube profile. This not only lets people know what your channel is all about, but it also gives them other places on the web to go (e.g. your website, Facebook page, etc). Additionally, filling out the profile helps with the SEO of your channel, which will help Google point people in your direction when they search for you.
Subscribing to other channels also helps you build your YouTube community and can help your organization gain new subscribers. The channels to which you subscribe cannot be seen by others; however, when you like a video or add it to your favorites list this action will show up in your activity feed and users will be able to see that.
YouTube users also have the option of choosing a video that is shown on their channel’s page first. Make sure you choose this video wisely. While some channels make this their most recent video, others choose to make it a welcome video. You can changed this at any time, but make sure that the video that is displayed prominently on your channel is one you think is a good representation of your organization.
As is true with any social media site, remember that sharing is caring. So, share your content on all of your other social media networks.
Nonprofit YouTube Extras
Like many other Google products, YouTube has made resources available for nonprofits to help them achieve their goals. This includes YouTube’s Nonprofit Program.
Benefits of being accepted into this program include:
- a donate now button on your channel’s page,
- the ability to livestream on your channel, and
- call to action overlays that pop-up on related videos for users to participate in.
These tools will help your organization succeed on the YouTube platform. Applying is easy. Your agency just needs a YouTube channel.
I hope this post has given you some insight on how to get started on YouTube. As for what type of content to include on your organization’s channel, that’s a post for another Monday.