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Trust Key to Giving for Millennial Donors

27 April 2011 at 7:42 pm
Lina Caneva
Establishing trust with a Not for Profit organisation and having a compelling mission are important for engaging with Millennial donors, according to a US report.

Lina Caneva | 27 April 2011 at 7:42 pm


Trust Key to Giving for Millennial Donors
27 April 2011 at 7:42 pm

Establishing trust with a Not for Profit organisation and having a compelling mission are important for engaging with Millennial donors, according to a US report.  

The Millennial Donors Report 2011 found that for Millennial donors (those born from the mid-70s), it isn’t just about high-tech approaches – they are looking for an organisation they can trust.

The report found that Millennial donors want to be approached differently than their predecessors and yet with the same level of respect and the same kind of connections to leadership.

For the 2011 Millennial Donors Study, Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA) received survey responses from nearly 3,000 people between the ages of 20 and 35 from across the United States about their giving habits and volunteer preferences.

According to research partners Derrick Feldman (Achieve) and Ted Grossnickle (Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates), the 2010 Survey found that the Millenial generation is made up of generous people who appreciate technological tools but make their philanthropic decisions based more on personal connections than virtual ones.

They say the 2011 reports shows more evidence of these giving approaches, along with new evidence that the millennial generation has some traditional notions – most notably that trust plays a large role in their giving decisions, and that they are most likely to volunteer for organisations if they have already donated to them.

Key Findings:


Nine in ten (93%) Millenials gave to Not for Profit organisations in 2010, with 21% giving $1000 or more throughout the year.  58% of respondents said their single largest gift was less than $150.

57% of Millennials gave in response to a personal ask and 49% gave online. However, when Millennials were asked how they prefer to give, online giving took the top spot, being identified as the method of choice by 58% of respondents, with personal requests dropping to 48%.

84% of Millennials said they are most likely to donate when they fully trust an organization, and 90% said they would stop giving if they do not trust an organization.

85% of Millennials are motivated to give by a compelling mission or cause, and 56% by a personal connection or trust in the leadership of the organization. Only 2% of Millennials were motivated to give by celebrity endorsements.


Using search engines is the way most Millenials get information about Not for Profit organisations, with 71% of respondents indicating they use web searches, 65% who get information via email and 56% who get information from their peers.  Only one third (33%) of Millenials say they use Facebook to gather inforamtion on an organisations.

When visiting an organisations website, 70% of Millennials say they want to find information about the organisation’s mission and history, and 56% want to learn about the organization’s financial condition.  65% of respondents want an organisation’s website to provide giving guides that explain how support will make a difference, and 52% want to learn about volunteer opportunities.


79% of respondents volunteered for organisations in 2010, with the primary obstacle to volunteering being a lack of time, which was noted by 85% of participants who did not volunteer in 2010. 45% of the non-volunteers said they simply weren’t asked to volunteer.

19% of people who gave $1,000 or more volunteered once a week or more, while only 11% of people who donated less than $1,000 volunteered that often.

Feldman and Grossnickle say the overriding impression they are left with after completing the study is that while the Millennial generation has often been characterised as being a one-dimensional, technologically plugged-in and personally disconnected group, the fact is, this group is diverse, human and ready to give.

They say that for NFPs, one of the biggest lessons here is that they cannot make assumptions
about Millennial donors, and instead need to embrace both their progressive ideas and
deeply rooted values.

The research partners say NFPs need to listen to Millennials and respond, rather than making assumptions.  They say organisations that succeed in the future will be those who succeed in engaging with Millennial donors on their terms.

The researchers say that in light of the findings of the Millennial Donors Survey, organisations who want to engage with Millenials must:

  • Work to establish and maintain the trust of their donors
  • Develop personal relationships and opportunities for donors to connect with their peers and with people from the organisation
  • Focus on the way the organisation appears in search engines
  • Help those donors who find them to understand the organisation thoroughly, appreciate how a gift would help, and know how to give

For the 2011 Millennial Donor survey, Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA) partnered with seven institutions to undertake an online survey.   The final report is based on the responses of 2,953 survey participants aged between 20 and 35.

View the full report here:

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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