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The key to connecting with millennial donors.

By Charles B. Jones

You may have heard the expression, “kids just aren’t like they used to be.” True as that may be, neither are young adults. Each generation is shaped by the culture and circumstances of their respective time. This includes the millennial generation. Millennials are less likely than their predecessors to strive for home ownership, perhaps because of greater tuition debt. Many start families later and live with their parents longer.

But what motivates millennials? Knowing more about their motivations can help anyone working with millennial clients tailor the perfect charitable giving plan for them.

Millennials want to tackle big issues. They care about their communities. They support the equality of rights, giving aid to the poor, and show deep concern for the environment. But how they give and how they interact with the culture seems different from prior generations. Most millennials want to feel that they are making a difference with their giving, and that they are appreciated for their individual contributions.

Millennial givers, more than most, need to be convinced of the importance of the cause and the need for their involvement. We must engage with millennial donors at the personal level

Every person has some part of their DNA that motivates them to action in every aspect of their life, including charitable giving. To fully engage we need to determine donors’ core motivators, as well as the core motivator that your charitable endeavor would likely employ.

One source I have found helpful is “Building a Vision for Your Life,” a book by Bob Perkins, a private consultant from Berwyn, Penn. He illustrates how a person conducts themselves and their relationships. The core motivators he identifies are classified as relational, belonging, caring, serving, giving, creating and perfecting.

For example, if a charitable organization’s work involves creating or perfecting (education would be an example of this), then millennials who are motivated by creating or perfecting will likely take a greater interest in such an organization. As advisors we often get to know our clients very well and understand their motivations. Organizations like BCF can match clients with the charitable organizations that match their motivators.

But how do I know the core motivator of my client or donor? Of course, that takes face-to-face time. Spend enough time with anyone and you intuitively understand what motivates them.

When you figure out a donor’s core motivator, you will have done both them and you a service. You will have found the key to the donor’s internal passion for their giving.


This article originally appeared on the Baltimore Community Foundation website.

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