Published by BWF

Articles, white papers, and advisories authored by Bentz Whaley Flessner’s team of philanthropy experts.


Client Advisory – Up, Up, and Out: The Good News about Millennials

Originally published March 5, 2015

Millennials are seeing an increase in job opportunities, earning higher wages, and moving out of their parents’ homes, Bloomberg recently reported.

The employment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds reached 76.6% in January, the highest since December 2008, and their wages increased by 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014, outpacing other age groups (0.8% for 35- to 44-year-olds and 1.7% for 45- to 54-year-olds).

These gains in jobs and wages could be driving an increase in the number of households, as young people achieve greater financial stability and move out of mom’s and dad’s basement.

As millennials are expected to outnumber baby-boomers this year, sustained growth in their wages and jobs will help boost the overall economy, and maybe your organization as well.

Your donor population may not yet reflect the coming shift in the general population, but what you did yesterday and what you do today will impact your ability to cultivate millennials as major donors in the years to come.

Consider the key characteristics of how Millennials like to engage with causes:

  • Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions.
  • Millennials support issues rather than organizations.
  • Millennials prefer to perform smaller actions before fully committing to a cause.
  • Millennials need to experience an organization’s work without having to be onsite.
  • Millennials are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers.
  • Millennials treat all their assets (time, money, network, etc.) as having equal value.

Source: Millennial Impact Report, 2014.

How should your engagement strategies reflect these preferences?

1.Case-stating. How are you framing the case for support for your organization? Focusing on the people your organization serves, the impact you are having, and the important issues you are addressing will be more compelling than a request for supporting your organization’s staffing and infrastructure resources.

2.Volunteering. Are your volunteer opportunities accessible and desirable? Providing various points of entry for Millennials to engage with your organization will help build loyalty over time. Volunteering at an event or helping with a smaller, focused service project might be necessary on-ramps to a more substantial, longer term commitment.

3.Leveraging the network. Perhaps most importantly, Millennials may need to see their peers engaged before they commit their time, talent, or treasure to your organization. Online giving days have demonstrated the power of Millennial networks, as volunteers use their social networks to drive significant fundraising results in focused online campaigns. See one example on our social philanthropy blog.

Looking long-term, millennials are set to inherit $30 trillion from their Baby Boomer parents in the coming decades. As Millennials gain their financial footing, make sure your organization is poised to welcome, engage, and cultivate your next generation of donors.

Copyright © 2015 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.