March 3, 2015 \ Rachel Jellinek
“To Give or Not to Give: How Do Donors Make Decisions About Their Charitable Giving?”

loyalty word in wood typeLast week I attended a panel presentation hosted by Women in Development of Greater Boston entitled, “To Give or Not to Give: How Do Donors Make Decisions About Their Charitable Giving?”

Here are three takeaways I want to share:

Are you being as inclusive as possible?

Renee Burns from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management related a story in which one of her female clients was offended that despite being a high-level donor to a nonprofit organization, she was regularly given a seat in the back of the room at their gala event. Her male counterparts were all consistently given seats in the front. In the big scheme of things, details like these can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of event planning and this may not seem like a big deal, but to this person it certainly was. Making people feel valued and included was a common theme among the speakers.

What are you doing to educate and build loyalty with your younger legacy donors?

Lisa Spalding from The Philanthropic Initiative and Katie Everett from the Lynch Foundation noted that sometimes legacy donors – younger generations from a family foundation, for example – might not have the same investment in your organization that their parents or grandparents did.

Donors like these may be involved in a particular cause due to their family’s philanthropic legacy and expectations from within, but they still want to feel personally connected to organizations too. They don’t want to be expected to give money or to sit on a board just because of their family name. They want to feel invested and be appreciated for what they can bring to the table.

Reaching out to individuals like this with educational opportunities, instead of making an ask, is a good way to strengthen ties between the younger generation of donors and the organization. For example, if you are an environmental organization, you could invite them to go on a hike to see the different sanctuaries your organization is maintaining and protecting.

What are you doing for your younger donors in general?

There was one more point on younger donors, particularly those in their 20s and 30s. Individuals in this age range might be less inclined to attend big gala events, if they have young children at home. Offering family-friendly opportunities for them to become more engaged, when possible, is important to keep in mind.