Long Island Cares, Inc. recently contracted with The AIMsights Group to implement its own research project to gauge the interest of millennials specifically on Long Island in supporting the regional food bank, and to find out how the population feels about ending hunger and lifting people out of poverty in Nassau and Suffolk County. The research findings were quite revealing, and one fact became certain in that, millennials on Long Island are not typical of millennials across the country when it comes to philanthropy and donating to local charities. The research took place online from June 7-13, 2019. The survey captured the responses of 525 respondents including 309 millennials between the ages of 19-34; 110 members of Gen X between the ages of 39-54; and 106 Baby Boomers between the ages of 55-73. Respondents had to earn an annual household income of least $30,000, which is just about $3,000 above the national poverty level for a family of four in the United States.
I was quite surprised with the responses we received from millennials when we asked them what causes they would support if they had the financial resources to donate to a local charity. Among the 19-34 age group, Mental Health was their number one choice followed by Education and the Environment. Education was the top-ranked cause among people 35-38, and for respondents in the 39-73 age group, Chronic Illness was their number one concern. The issue of Hunger and Poverty ranked 4.2 within the top five priorities. Although food banks are going to have to work harder if we want to engage millennials to support our mission, my colleagues in the Mental Health field should be developing strategic plans that identify millennials as a potential donor base. Given the social climate we live in and the stresses that millennials experience related to income, affordable housing, gun violence, substance abuse and other concerns, it makes sense to me that Mental Health is their top priority. Millennials tend to donate to causes they have a connection to and there are more people coping with mental illness then experiencing food insecurity on Long Island.
When asked how they would donate to a charity, millennials said they would donate cash and non-cash such as donating clothing, furniture or volunteering. They also view posting on social media as a way of supporting charities. Between 2-20% of millennials would be willing to donate only once or once annually to local charities, while the majority said they would donate monthly or twice per year. The challenge nonprofit organizations will face is that millennials have a cap of between $20-50 of how much they can afford and are willing to donate. Realistically, millennials can’t be seen currently as potential major donors.
When it came to what would inspire millennials to donate to a charity, 75% said that a personal experience is most important, 49% said they would be open to a recommendation from family or friends, while 26% said they’re inspired by online stories about charitable organizations. The majority of Long Island millennials also said that the ability to help people directly, along with proof that their $20-50 donation would make a difference in someone’s life would determine their donation.
For Long Island nonprofits, the stage is set when it comes to cultivating millennial donors. If your organization focuses on Mental Health, Education, Environment, Hunger or Animal Welfare, you might have some opportunities to engage millennials. If you’re willing to do the outreach and marketing, or create special events to cultivate a $20-50 donation, move one step forward. If you can prove that your programs help people directly and you can document a real successful outcome, take another step forward. My next column will review millennials’ relationship with money and their decision-making about how they’re willing to support charitable organizations.
September 11, 2019