As we've talked to people around the country about our research on next gen donors, we've encountered enthusiasm and concern in about equal measure. The enthusiasm leads them to ask a number of unanswered questions: What are next gen donors interested in? What kinds of changes do they want to see in our world? What's the secret to getting them more engaged? The questions of concern are: Will the next generation give at the same level as previous big donors? If I want next gen donors' support, will I have to change how I appeal to them? Just what kind of donors will I have to work with?
But hands down the most common question we hear is this: Are they going to give to the same causes and organizations as big donors of the past?
We get this question from nonprofit leaders concerned that their organization will no longer be a priority. We get it from current donors and socially conscious citizens worried that the causes they care about will be of little interest to the very Gen X or Millennial donors who could potentially make the biggest difference. And we get it from older members of philanthropic families who fret that the younger family members will abandon what they have long supported.
Our answer to this question is mixed. These rising next gen donors are, on the whole, interested in the same big causes and social problems as their parents and other older donors. They don't plan to cut off major funding for health care or ...