A New "Five I's?"

The 2013 Millenial Impact Report was released this week, the fourth annual study of trends in Millennial interactions with nonprofits. 

The study is both interesting – well worth the time it takes to review – and encouraging: more than 80% of respondents had donated in 2012; more than $50 for over half of them.

But as I reviewed the report, I was mostly struck by how much this industry is changing. It's not necessarily a change caused by Millenials, but I do think they're helping accelerate it.

For the past 30-plus years, fundraisers have embraced The Five I's of Phalanthropy as an action plan to guide supporters up the donor pyramid:
• Identification
• Information
• Interest
• Involvement
• Investment

This path focuses primarily on outreach efforts by the organization.

The new path will not. I think this study points out many of the new donor characteristics that will force organizations to change. According to this research, Millenials are:

  • Inquisitive. They want to stay informed. As one participant responded, "Educate me about [your] organization and challenge me to think and reinforce my caring."
  • Inspired. They want to work on a cause they're passionate about and are far more likely to share information about the cause than the organization.
  • Impulsive. They're more likely to respond to request for immediate action.
  • Inclusive. They see themselves as part of a group. Three-fourths of respondents had liked, retweeted or shared a nonprofit's post in the past year; 70% said they are willing to raise money on behalf of an organization they care about.
  • Impact-driven. They want a make a difference, and they want to know how their contribution – time or treasure – is making a difference, too.

In today's highly cluttered, highly competitive fundraising environment, the organization that considers these needs and can focus more on responding than reaching out stands a far greater likelihood of success.

And, not just with Millenials.