As the holidays are fast approaching, many nonprofits are very much in the fundraising mindset. From my experience at my previous nonprofit internships, the time from Halloween to New Years was when the biggest bulk of our donations came in. Since this time is vital for nonprofits to reach their fundraising goals in order to continue to fund their services and work for the community, it’s important for organizations to diversify their donor base. Aside from corporate, event, and private donations, the simple $10-$100 donation amount can really go a long way. As a recent post-grad my budget is very tight, but when there is a cause or organization I am inspired by or passionate about, I try to allot some money to nonprofit donations. But young people don’t tend to be the strongest or most dependable donor base because we have just graduated, are getting situated in our careers, and may not have generous salaries that allow us to make effective donations. However, I would suggest nonprofits reach out to and make relationships with a young donor base that can grow overtime.
By nonprofits establishing a donor relationship with recent post-grads (close to their graduation date or soon after), there may be a higher likelihood of donor retention for a sustainable amount of time. Many young people who are interested in nonprofit work, public service, and community change are earnestly looking for ways to contribute and make their mark. A donation can be a foot in the door for many recent graduates who are looking to get more involved in or become more supportive of the nonprofit sector. The follow up with that donation can be even more beneficial for both the young donor and your organization. I always appreciated the personal connection that was initiated by nonprofits that I donated to. I also appreciated seeing exactly where my donation was going. That transparency helped me develop trust in the nonprofit organization and motivated me to continue donating to see how else my donation efforts could make an even more significant impact.
I’d also suggest nonprofits taking a creative and non-traditional approach to their outreach efforts to potential young donors. Social media is being more and more utilized by nonprofits to amp up fundraising efforts and young people are the primary users of these outlets. Making your nonprofit’s social media presence personal and creative while fundraising is definitely an effective and unique way to broaden your donor demographic. Personalizing your social media presence and engaging young people is a way to create donor connections that could potentially last longer than 140 characters.
My charge to nonprofits during this holiday fundraising frenzy is to actively engage and make personal and sustainable connections to recent college graduates and 20-somethngs to expand and diversify your donor base. The earlier you can involve young people in your organizational efforts and services; there is a heightened possibility of them maintaining their involvement and interest in the organization. Attracting young donors and volunteers is important for nonprofits to expand their audience, make their mission more relevant, and foster longevity among their supporters. Even if it’s just a $25 donation this holiday season from a recent graduate, that contribution has the potential to grow and become effectively sustainable. Inspire your community and engage its youth, their impact can be meaningful and has the potential to make ripples.
Dylan Manderlink is a recent graduate of Emerson College in downtown Boston, MA. She studied a self-designed major that blends the disciplines of theatre, social advocacy, leadership strategies, and journalism entitled, Investigative Theatre for Social Change. Dylan is a current Teach for America corps member teaching Digital Communications at a high school in Arkansas. She is passionate about working towards social justice through nonprofit work and supporting NGOs that are committed to improving the quality of life for all people and raising awareness for community change through service, activism, and the arts. Dylan was the president of her college’s student-run social justice organization for 3 years, served on her school’s sustainability committee, and worked in her college’s Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement. Her previous nonprofit internship experience in Boston includes working as the Marketing Intern for Year Up, the Communications Intern for Community Works, Recruitment Outreach Intern for Green Corps, and the Communications Intern at Pine Street Inn homeless shelter. Dylan has also interned at the LA-based nonprofit, : Liberty in North Korea.