Tag Archives: philanthropy

How to Unlock the Major Gift Magic in Profiles and Capacity Ratings

It happens. You get that profile and say to yourself, “Well, I knew all THAT,” or you take one look at that capacity rating and say, “In my DREAMS they’ll give that much!” — or worse, you say, “They could give so MUCH MORE than that!”

Where do profiles and capacity ratings go wrong and how can you unlock the major gift magic for you and your organization?

At Aspire Research Group, we prepare a lot of profiles, and we spend a lot of time fretting over capacity ratings. We also spend a lot of time with our clients, asking and listening to what information serves them best.

Following are three things we’ve learned that anyone can implement to unlock major gift potential in your prospect research efforts:

1 – Say “Yes!” to prospect strategy reviews with your researcher

Every new client at Aspire gets a brief follow-up profile review after the first delivery. This is a critical juncture in making sure we are delivering the right information. When we get a request, we know you trust us to sort through a treasure trove of data and deliver the right bits to you. But how do we know which bits are the best?

Some of it is standard, but if you want major gift magic, we have to talk to you and learn more about what matters most to you and your organization. That first conversation leads to more conversations. Sometimes we have questions at the time of your request, or right in the middle of doing the work!

Making the time for periodic prospect strategy review meetings pays off with better information being delivered in the profiles. But if you really want to up your major gift game, you have to do more to get the most out of prospect research.

You have to push back, question, and – dare I say it – complain. We recently had a client get frustrated with the way we’re delivering information he found critical to his success. What if he had kept quiet? Grumbled to himself and spent twice the time finding it on his own?

Now we are back on track, supporting him on the research path he has discovered works really, REALLY well for his campaign. At Aspire we WANT our clients to be successful!

2 – More is better – but more of what?

Aspire clients are probably a lot like you. Fundraising operations that do not have a prospect researcher on staff, but are either raising millions every year or on track to cross into 7-figure territory. What we’ve learned over the years is that confident fundraisers are BOLD.

Research is expensive. But NOT getting research is devastating. It means no new building. No programs for people who are suffering.

If you know how to build relationships with your donors and ask for larger gifts, what is holding you back from asking for more profiles? Why wouldn’t you want to know exactly what your experience indicates will lead to a deeper relationship faster?

Yes, information on prospects does go stale over time — but not if you are out there cultivating and asking for gifts. Bold and confident fundraisers make the investment – and generate the return they need to fund their mission.

3 – Capacity ratings are like weather forecasts

There are so many types of gift capacity ratings or ways in which to calculate them, that it’s no surprise when development officers throw up their hands and give up on them altogether!

The primary purpose for a capacity rating is to help you prioritize and segment donor prospects. Does that surprise you? If this is true, then why are they on every profile?

When you see the capacity rating on your profile, think of it more like a weather forecast. You know it has a high level of unreliability, but it is correct often enough that you bring your umbrella when there is a high chance of rain.

If you have a relationship with your researcher, make sure you understand something about how they are creating, verifying, or updating the capacity rating. This will go a long way to helping you unlock some major gift magic from them.

Once you have some confidence in the gift capacity rating, you will have more confidence in using it as an important consideration when crafting your major gift proposal amounts. At this point, the gift capacity rating might validate what you were already thinking, or it might give you the confidence to ask for even more.

Fundraising is hard work.

Major gift fundraising is even more hard work. It’s not your fault that you are pressed for time and struggling to pay attention to yet another thing – prospect research. We get it.

That’s why we created a new 30-min webinar series this year – Research Rocks!

In 30-minutes you get the “why” of profiles and capacity ratings and tips on how you can implement better practices easily and immediately. If you show up live, you get to interact and connect with others. But there’s always the replay.

WARNING: At Aspire we really do LOVE prospect research and by the end of 30 minutes, you might get hooked, too.

1 – Can you really trust gift capacity ratings? | 8/9/2022 from 2-3pm ET | $49

Gift capacity ratings are touted as one of the best ways to segment for major gift prospects, but just how reliable are they? And why are they based on a 5-year pledge? Veteran researcher, Jen Filla, tackles the topic, diving right into what works and what doesn’t for development officers responsible for major gifts. Walk away knowing the different types of capacity ratings, how to leverage them for maximum impact, and how gift capacity ratings are changing with emerging technology.

2 – Build better relationships – and ask for more – with profiles | 9/13/2022 from 2-3pm ET | $49

Not all donor prospect profiles are created equal – and that’s a good thing! In this session, prospect research professional, Jen Filla, demonstrates how you can navigate the prospect profile continuum to build faster, better relationships with your donors and feel confident asking for larger gifts. It all hinges on getting the right information at the right time – and using it.

If you have any questions about how you might use this training opportunity with your team or elsewhere in your organization, please contact us.

Disruptive Philanthropy: A Guide to Donor Advised Funds

July 2022 | Tampa FL

Disruptive-Philanthropy-Cover

Aspire Research Group LLC released Disruptive Philanthropy: A Guide to Donor Advised Funds written by Research Consultant, Elisa Shoenberger. This book was born out of a desire to examine both sides of the donor advised fund – the advantages and the disadvantages.

As one of the fastest growing areas of philanthropy in recent years, it is critical that organizations understand the legal structure of donor advised funds and that fundraisers position their organizations for successful donor acquisition and stewardship of this class of donors.

While Disruptive Philanthropy is not a definitive guide on these topics, it is meant to help you understand exactly what a donor advised fund is, how it is different from family foundations, and how your organization can succeed in stewarding these donors.

This 61-page e-book provides a holistic view of donor advised funds for fundraisers, whether you are a development officer or a prospect researcher. It explores what donor advised fund account holders look like as well as clearly outlining the benefits and disadvantages of donor advised funds. The report is broken up into seven chapters and two interviews including innovations in fundraising, how to be ready for donor advised funds, and ends with links and sources to help you access even more information on your own.

“Donor advised funds have been well-marketed to the general public and are clearly fulfilling donors’ needs. As fundraisers, we need to be better prepared to understand the motivations of donor advised fund account holders and manage these gifts in a legally compliant way,” indicates Aspire CEO, Jen Filla.

“Donor advised funds present such a big opportunity for nonprofits, if they know how to go about making connections,” says Shoenberger.

About the Author

elisa-shoenberger

Elisa Shoenberger is a Research Consultant at Aspire Research Group. She has over eight years of experience in the fundraising sector working as a prospect researcher at Loyola University Chicago and benchmarking analyst at Grenzebach Glier and Associates.

Elisa earned her MBA in marketing and operations management from Loyola, a MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a BA in history from the University of Chicago.

She has written about philanthropy for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Inside Philanthropy, Brainfacts.org, the Daily Dot, Rewire (PBS affiliate), and others. She has also written for the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Slate, and Business Insider. She writes regularly for Book Riot and Murder & Mayhem. In her spare time, she plays alto saxophone.

Review of Women Give 2022: Racial Justice, Gender and Generosity

What is this Report?

This annual Women Give report focuses on different aspects of women’s philanthropy. This year’s report looks at gender, philanthropy, and racial justice. It includes survey data given to a sample population of 2,073 in May 2021.

What are the Key Findings from the Article?

  • Women have played important roles in racial justice movements and social change movements for centuries. Black women, in particular, have played significant roles in many movements but have not gotten the credit they deserve, due to both racism and sexism.
  • Philanthropy is expansive; it’s not about giving money to organizations. It can include direct giving to individuals, families, communities, mutual aid as a whole, support for Minority-owned businesses, Minority institutions like Black churches, etc. The report defines three categories of giving: direct support to families and individuals impacted by racial justice; grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter, Bail funds; and Large Established organizations like the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Urban League.
  • While corporations were lauded for giving to racial justice, The Washington Post showed that 90% of the $50 billion committed to racial justice were not grants. They tended to be loans or investments, which would benefit the corporations.
  • About 1 in 7 US households gave money to racial justice causes in 2020. 42% of households support racial justice broadly, but only 14% give money to racial justice causes. There is room to grow!
  • Twenty-three and half percent of households supported racial justice in the US. Support took many forms including giving money, reaching out to elected officials, donating to political candidates who support their views, volunteerism and more.
  • The average racial justice donor is more likely to be younger, a woman of color, have a college degree, identify as LGBTQ+, unmarried, and working. The survey findings support the social identification theory – people are more likely to give to groups that they identify with. However, the report notes that it does not quite hold up for LGBTQ+ and race, but they may give to marginalized communities since they have been marginalized themselves.

What Can I Do as a Result?

  • Remember that support does not have to be strictly donations to nonprofits. People give in many ways, which may not fit into the traditional view of philanthropy. When talking or learning about prospects, keep an ear open for volunteerism, political activism, mutual aid, religious giving, etc. Find easy and effective ways to collect and record this information in your donor database.
  • Don’t forget to appeal to women and people of color. Do you know how your organization’s communications look when viewed through the eyes of women and people of color? How are you listening and responding to these populations’ needs and desires?
  • Can your organization see women and people of color? Can you sort and filter for single women in your donor database? Can you create opt-in opportunities for people of color to be recorded as such in your donor database? This might look like gifts to a specific program fund or participation in certain events that demonstrate identification with or affinity for people of color.
  • As the report noted, there’s room to grow with support for social justice. Organizations or programs classified in this area might want to see how they can best approach these demographic groups to expand their work and meet their philanthropic goals.

Additional Resources

Review of Fidelity Charitable Giving Report 2022

What is this Report?

The report is an annual report of Fidelity Charitable donor advised giving for the prior year. It explores both giving to Fidelity Charitable donor advised accounts as well as giving from donor advised funds to charities.

What are key findings from the article?

  • Fidelity Charitable donors gave $10.3 billion in 2021, a 41 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. It’s a 13 percent increase from 2020. Grants went to over 187,000 organizations.
  • People gave $331 million in cryptocurrency to their donor advised funds in 2021. That’s up from $28 million in 2020! Sixty-six percent of all donations to DAFs were not-cash, including non-publicly traded assets and publicly traded securities.
  • Fifty-one percent of DAFs have balances under $25K. Thirty-eight percent have balances between $25K and $250K. Eleven percent have more than $250K on their balance sheets.
  • Ninety-one percent of DAFs made at least one grant in 2021. Sixty-four percent gave the grant to charities to be used “where needed most.” Forty-eight percent were re-grants; 27 percent were scheduled grants to the same organization; and 25 percent were grants to new organizations, suggesting stability in giving.
  • Four percent of donors were anonymous. Fourteen percent only included the Giving Account name while 82 percent included donor name and address.
  • Religion remains number one for distribution of grant dollars, followed by human services and education. Human services decreased slightly from 2020 giving. However, the organization that has received the most DAF grants was Doctors without Borders, again number 1, followed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and then the American National Red Cross. Some grant levels are returning to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Three billion dollars was allocated to impact investments, up from $1.8 billion in 2020.
  • Donors also made $11.7M of recoverable grants to charities. It’s like a loan where charities had to achieve certain milestones “before returning the funds to Fidelity Charitable for future recommendations.”

What can I do as a result?

  • Make sure you advertise that your organization accepts gifts from DAFs. A campaign to target donor advised funds might be another option. There’s a lot of money flowing in and out of donor advised funds. Plus, we know that recurring donations are a real boon to nonprofits. With 75 percent of donations from DAFs going to charities that had already received prior gifts, there’s a real opportunity of turning a one-time gift into a recurring one!
  • Thank your donor advised fund donors. The report confirms that only 4 percent are completely anonymous. Send thank you’s and make phone calls to this segment, provided they have not asked you not to contact them. Just because they give through a gift vehicle, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate that special touch. It might make the difference between that one-time gift and a yearly one.
  • Advertise if your organization can convert non-cash assets. With 66 percent of all donations to DAFs as non-cash assets, people are looking for a way to donate these hard-to-convert items. If your organization can deal with these assets, you should let people know. That way, they could come to you instead of creating a DAF.
  • While DAFs have their controversies, they are here to stay. The time to get ready to accept donor advised funds is now.

Additional Resources

Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index 2021: a global pandemic special report – June 2021

What is this Report?

The report is an annual report that looks at global giving focusing on three areas: helping strangers, donating money to charity and volunteering time. The report surveys 1.6 million people interviewed since 2009.

What are key findings from the article?

  • One of fifth of all people around the globe volunteer.
  • Indonesia is number one in generosity. Eight out of ten Indonesians gave to charity and the number of volunteers were three times the global average. The countries in the top ten most generous countries changed dramatically. They are (in order):
    1. Nigeria
    2. Myanmar
    3. Australia
    4. Ghana
    5. New Zealand
    6. Uganda
    7. Kosovo
    8. Thailand
  • The United States, usually in the top five, fell to 19th in 2020. It has significantly declined in all three categories since 2016. Other countries usually in the top ten (United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands) also dropped out of the top 10. Overall, developing countries are seeing participation in philanthropy increase across the board; developed countries are showing some decline or stalling. The report finds that European countries dominated the list of countries least likely to help a stranger.
  • People were more likely to give to strangers than ever before. More than three billion people (over 55% of total population) helped a stranger in 2020. Six of ten countries that topped the list were in Africa. CAF attributes the high rates of caring for strangers to the African idea of ubuntu “described as the capacity in an African culture to express compassion, reciprocity, dignity, humanity and mutuality in the interests of building and maintaining communities with justice and mutual caring.”
  • Giving is up despite (or because of) the pandemic. 31% of people gave, and volunteer levels were unchanged in 2020.
  • CAF tracks the countries that have increased their World Giving Score in at least four out of the five past years. The Biggest risers are:
    1. Georgia
    2. Paraguay
    3. Ethiopia
    4. Bulgaria
    5. Vietnam
    6. Serbia
    7. Bangladesh
    8. China
    9. Ukraine
    10. India

What can I do as a result?

  • Look beyond the US and Europe if your organization has a global reach. There’s potential for philanthropy from other parts of the world, provided that your mission touches the country in some way. Check out if you have prospects in Indonesia, Kenya and Nigeria. However, the report did not focus on where the philanthropy went —in other words, did the money stay in the country or go elsewhere?
  • There’s money available for philanthropy. This is a theme that has shown up in many recent wealth reports. Some nonprofits were worried about asking for donations during COVID-19, but people still want to give to nonprofits, probably even more, as a result of the pandemic.
  • Think outside the box with your volunteers. Despite the pandemic, volunteerism did not decrease. How can your organization continue to engage your volunteers for your mission? After all, we know that volunteerism makes people feel good and more likely to want to give to your organization.
  • The drop in US in philanthropy is concerning. Consider examining how you are engaging donors — and when and how you are losing donors.

Additional Resources

Are NFTs the next best fundraising opportunity? And what are they, anyway?

As someone who writes about cryptocurrency and art (separately) for Aspire Research and other publications, I’ve been getting a lot of public relation emails about NFTs. A lot. I know earlier this year, an artist named Beeple sold “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” for $69.3M at an auction at Christies’ so maybe it’s big money that’s getting people’s attention.

I read this humorous example from a user named “queersamus”:

Imagine if you went up to the mona lisa and you were like “I’d like to own this” and someone nearby went “give me 65 million dollars and I’ll burn down an unspecified amount of the amazon rainforest in order to give you this receipt of the purchase” so you paid them and they went ‘here’s your receipt, thank you for the purchase” and went to an unmarked supply closet in the bank of the museum and posted a handmade label inside it behind the brooms that said “mona lisa currently owned by jacobgalapagos” so if anyone wants to know who owns it they’d have to find this specific closet in the specific hallway and look behind the correct brooms, and you went “can I take the mona lisa home now?” and they went “oh god no are you stupid? You only bought the receipt that says you won it, you didn’t actually buy the mona lisa itself, you can’t take the real mona lisa you idiot. You CAN take this though, and gave you the replica print in a cardboard tube that’s sold in a gift shop. Also the person selling you the receipt of purchase has at no point in time ever owned the mona lisa.

Unfortunately, if this doesn’t really make sense or seem like any logical person would be happy about this exchange, then you’ve understood it perfectly.

I vaguely knew what they were – something to do with unique digital images – but knew there was a lot of backlash against them from the artists I follow on Twitter. An artist tweeted last week that they discovered that their early work was turned into NFTs without their consent. The Atlantic previously published a piece about how NFTs don’t help artists. There’s also concerns about the environmental costs to compute NFTS.

But there was a lot of money involved so, as a researcher, I became naturally curious about what was going on. Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that New Jersey based health clinic Sostento received about $58K from the sale of “The NFT Guild Philanthropist – Healthcare Heroes.” The artist also matched the sale price. And most intriguing, Chronicle reports, “The NFT will also continue to benefit charities in the future. It was created with a provision that obliges proceeds of future sales to be given to charity.”

Light bulbs went off in my head, much like when I realized how useful 3D printing is after watching a TED talk on 3D printing organs to solve the organ donor crisis.

So, What Exactly is an NFT?

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Investopedia defines it as “a cryptographic assets on blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other.” Or more simply, it is a digital asset, such as a picture, a sound, etc. Wall Street Journal defines NFTs as “vouchers of authenticity for digital assets.” Someone likened it to like a trading card, which makes sense for me.

Harvard Business Review provides an in-depth explanation of what that exactly means:

NFTs have fundamentally changed the market for digital assets. Historically there was no way to separate the “owner” of a digital artwork from someone who just saved a copy to their desktop. Markets can’t operate without clear property rights: Before someone can buy a good, it has to be clear who has the right to sell it, and once someone does buy, you need to be able to transfer ownership from the seller to the buyer. NFTs solve this problem by giving parties something they can agree represents ownership. In doing so, they make it possible to build markets around new types of transactions — buying and selling products that could never be sold before, or enabling transactions to happen in innovative ways that are more efficient and valuable.

The thing that gets me in that description is the idea that “markets can’t operate without clear property rights.” Not sure if that makes sense since we have been functioning just fine on the internet without NFTs – for decades. Sharing images and videos without attribution is a problem, and tagging with data would help with that. Except you can still download an image and share it without crediting the creator if I understand things correctly.

Plus, there’s big concerns on how it isn’t doing what people hoped – helping artists. In the Atlantic earlier this year, Anil Dash who worked on putting together one of the first NFTs with artist Kevin McCoy in 2014 said, “Our dream of empowering artists hasn’t yet come true, but it has yielded a lot of commercially exploitable hype.”

He later writes, “In the meantime, the current NFT market is drawing an extraordinary range of grifters and spammers. People are creating NFTs of artists’ works without asking permission or even letting the artists know.”

Harvard Business Review does point out that NFTs are “a completely novel asset class and we don’t see new assets classes appear that often.” Granted we just saw the creation of crypto as its own asset, but it’s useful to think of it in those terms. Designating NFTs as an asset puts it in the same category as real estate, jewelry, and stocks and bonds.

And because it really sounds like an Onion article, Wall Street Journal recently tweeted: “Your grandmother gave you cash in an envelope for the holidays. Should you consider giving her an NFT or cryptocurrency?”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy pointed out that NFTs occupy an in-between space from a regulatory standpoint: “Regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, are beginning to examine how and when to treat NFTs as collectibles or securities. The eventual result of those decisions could have ramifications for charitable-accounting offices.” Cryptocurrencies, in contrast, right now are treated as property, not securities.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

But the second part of the explanation about “enabling transactions to happen in innovative ways” does catch my eye. We already see it with respect to the Sostento gift above; subsequent sales of the NFT will give a portion back to charity.

Chronicle of Philanthropy also reported how other nonprofits are making money off of NFTs, like Beneath the Waves that auctioned off “dozens of NFTs that each represent a real-life shark tag, with starting prices ranging from $500 to $20,000. The owners get the right to name their tagged shark and will receive updates on its movement through the oceans.”

Macy’s auctioned off ten of its Thanksgiving Day parade balloons as NFTs and planned to give the money to Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. And if they are resold, 10% will go to Make-A-Wish.

Recently, Shutterfly announced that it was auctioning off NFTs featuring fashion icon Iris Apfel to raise money for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will be given to the nonprofit, including a $25K donation from Shutterfly.

Now all that is very intriguing to me.

But that’s not all. Harvard Business Review points out that NFTs are almost functioning like memberships that get you into special communities. For example, “The Bored Ape Yacht Club, comprises a series of NFT ape images conferring membership in an online community. The project started with a series of private chat rooms and a graffiti board, and has grown to include high-end merchandise, social events, and even an actual yacht party.” Restaurants are reportedly using NFTs for reservations as well.

This might have some interesting uses by nonprofits, especially museums and other membership based nonprofits.

The Verdict

Digging into NFTs has been useful to deepen my understanding on a topic that I had initially written off. I see the potential, but the environmental costs, the unregulated landscape, and the challenges that artists are facing are some big problems. I’m not quite on board in the same way that I am with cryptocurrencies.

NFTs are so new, in a way that cryptos are not, that I think with time and some regulation, maybe NFTs could develop from “passing fad” and grow some legs. I’m thrilled that charities are using NFTs to generate donations, whether by accepting NFTs (through sales) or auctioning them off.

What is your organization doing about NFTs? Is your organization ready to accept cryptocurrencies? Please comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts about it!

Additional Resources


Gender and Crowdfunding: September 2021 by Women’s Philanthropy Institute

What is this Report?

The report focuses on how gender may impact crowdfunding. It’ll dive into how men and women may act and give money differently when faced with a crowdfunding campaign. The report is based on sample size of 1,535 in September 2020.

What are the key findings from the article?

  • Almost one in three women have given to crowdfunding in the past. Female donors tend to be younger, more education, in the Western US compared to nondonors. Other research at the WPI suggests that women tend to give collaboratively. Also, women use the internet differently, which may impact the way they behave with crowdfunding campaigns.
  • But men and women are just as likely to give. Slightly less than a third of men and women give to a crowdfunding campaign in a given year. But women are more likely (34%) to give to a social media campaign than men (31.4%).
  • Women of Color tended to give to crowdfunding at higher rates than white women. 33.3% of Black women, 31.2% of Hispanic women give to crowdfunding campaigns compared to 30.2% of White women. The report theorizes that it might be that crowdfunding is a blend of formal and informal generosity, which women of Color tend to give in higher rates that women.
  • Personal connection to the person behind the crowdfunding campaign is important. Women are more likely to give to family members or close friends. They are less inclined with campaigns associated with celebrities, influencers and for-profit.
  • Donors are more comfortable sharing campaigns, rather than asking their connection to give directly.
  • 94.6% of former female donors plan on giving the same or more in future campaigns.
  • Finally, crowdfunding may be seen as another way to be generous, rather than a replacement of giving. This is different from impact investment, which men are more likely to view as a replacement for crowdfunding, rather than another venue forgiving.

What can I do as a result?

  • Don’t ignore crowdfunding for your organization. Fundly estimates that $34.4 billion was raised through crowdfunding in 2020.
  • Remember the women prospective donors. As the reported noted, the findings resonate with other studies about women’s behavior when giving. Women tend to want to have a personal connection to the organization before giving. Women also tend to be more uncomfortable directly asking for money.
  • It’s critical to make fundraising appeals, whether for a crowdfunding or traditional philanthropy, that is segmented for women. Celebrities and famous people aren’t going to get women to give but their friends and family can.

Additional Resources

2017 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Report

By Elizabeth Eck

“Unlike many older philanthropists, this globally connected and tech-savvy cohort is not content with just writing a charitable cheque. They see their skills, networks and for-profit investments as part of how they make an impact with philanthropy.”  -The Economist Intelligence Unit

2017-BNP-PARIBAS-PHILANTHROPY-REPORT_FINAL_Page_01What is this Report?

Based on interviews conducted between November 2016 and January 2017 with affluent millennials and experts, the report assesses the shift in the approach to philanthropy by the next generation of affluent families, focusing on millennials engaged in family foundations. The report explores the millennial mindset, their investment tools and strategies, and the balance struck between family legacy and philanthropic innovation. The report defines millennials as those born between 1980 and 2000.

What are key findings from the article?

  • Millennials are taking the reins. Though the bulk of wealth and charitable giving remains in the hands of older generations at this point, millennials are increasingly being given the reins of family businesses and foundations and becoming the decision-makers.
  • Millennials believe in social entrepreneurship and are thus willing to support or invest in social enterprises and for-profit organizations, sometimes setting up their own. The sectors in which they invest include FinTech, EdTech, food/agriculture, and energy, and they are looking for sustainability – such as job creation and lifting individuals out of poverty. Meanwhile, traditional beneficiaries such as arts institutions are of less interest.
  • Social media has inspired a global perspective. Social media, online news publications, and ease of travel have led millennials to take a more global, dispersed approach to philanthropy. And there’s a sense of urgency to their giving – they want to tackle problems now.
  • Millennials are digitally social. Unlike previous generations, millennials like to use social media to announce the family foundation’s initiatives and achievements and to draw attention to their work. They are also open to collaborative approaches, often using social media to identify strategic partners.
  • Impact investing is interesting. While family foundations often invest endowments in conventional instruments such as stocks and bonds, millennials are increasingly interested in innovative financing tools and impact investing. Impact investments are those made to organizations and funds with the intention of generating social and environmental impact alongside financial return.
  • Millennials are unlikely to abandon traditional grant-making altogether. The report also notes that traditional grant-making and charitable giving is not expected to end as not all issues can be addressed through market-based solutions. Human trafficking and domestic abuse are cited as two examples. Moreover, social entrepreneurs require seed funding in early development.
  • Millennials view legacy more in terms of actions than institutions. As for the balance between family legacy and philanthropic innovation, in general, millennials are less concerned with the formalities of passing a legacy onto the next generation than their elders; however, they are instilling an appreciation for philanthropy in their own children. Rather than family legacy, they think in terms of a legacy of giving where there is less constraint and more incentive to turn ideals into action.

What can I do as a result?

  • Millennials care about being heard and being involved in good causes. Ask millennials for feedback. Even if the older generation is still the decision maker in a family foundation, engage the younger generation as they will be inheriting the reins before long. Ask for their feedback in terms of where they see the foundation going and what issues are important to them. Ask for feedback on how your institution might make improvements. Ask the millennials to volunteer for your organization.
  • Millennials want to tackle causes they care about – now. Learn to utilize all forms of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Establish your presence and contribute meaningful content that tells your story with a sense of urgency.
  • In social media, find and follow foundations tackling the issues in your field. Comment on their posts so they begin to become familiar with your name and organization.
  • Learn to use digital assessment tools to track your impact and then share that information. Again, you want to tell your story and your successes.
  • If you’re in a traditional non-profit organization that doesn’t fall within the realm of social or environmental work, don’t despair. Think in terms of what might appeal to a millennial. Many arts and educational institutions, for example, offer programs for underserved youth. Trumpet the work you’re doing with those populations. You may find the funders following you on social media.

Additional Resources