Millennial Philanthropists Demand Tech Simplicity

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

We know a lot about millennials and their preferences for engaging with the causes they care most about. In particular, the Millennial Impact Report created buzz when the Case Foundation released it in June 2014. That report showed us that millennials engage with causes primarily to help other people – not to help institutions. The major implication from this report was that millennials support issues rather than organizations. The research indicated that millennials prefer to perform smaller actions before fully committing to a cause, they are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers and they treat their time, money, and assets all as having similar value.

But what’s happened in the year since that report was released? The upshot is that another finding in the Millennial Impact Study is becoming a high priority for philanthropic institutions: Millennials need to experience impact without having to be on-site. The opposite of on-site is, of course, online. And that is a big reason why the intersection of high-tech and high-touch can make or break the success of the relationship.

“The synergy between high-tech and high-touch is especially important for donor-advised funding platforms,” said Laura McKnight, CEO of Crown Philanthropic Solutions. “These platforms are fast becoming one of the philanthropic industry’s most preferred vehicles because of the simplicity, usability, and flexibility – especially if the donor-advised fund provider is leveraging a cloud-based platform for ease of administration.”


Transparency and Control for Millennial Prosumers is a requirement

The future of philanthropy is a world where millennials want transparency and control. That’s the new framework for giving and, thanks to technology; it looks a lot different than the old framework. How different? Here are four ways millennial philanthropists are demanding more from technology to shape the experience they want out of making an impact.

  1. Big data, little data

Millennials are all about the numbers. They want data points, infographics, and analytics related to their philanthropy. This desire for information has moved well beyond the notion of the “impact” nonprofits are making with dollars donated. Millennials want to see their own giving reflected back to them in a way that illustrates the significant role philanthropy plays in their pursuit of a well-rounded life. Crunching big numbers is important, and millennials want to see macro trends. However, it is important not to forgetthe vital role that little data plays. Millennials want access to tangible evidence and stories about real people doing real good.

  1. Access needs to be immediate – which leans toward cloud-based solutions

Millennials want to experience philanthropy through an online experience that matches the quality digital experiences they are used to getting on social media sites. According to Blackbaud’s Next Generation in American Giving report, 47 percent of millennials gave to a charity through a website in 2013. Millennials want the giving experience to be mobile, seamless, simple, and frankly, gorgeous. They want it all in the cloud, and they will not tolerate clunky applications that don’t integrate well with other tools.

  1. Cyber Safety

Millennials know that cyberspace is fraught with risk. According to MasterCard’s 2015 Safety and Security Survey, 80 percent of millennials are concerned with their financial information being stolen or compromised. Millennials understand far more about online security than their parents do. They view philanthropy as a public act in a private space, and the importance of the integrity of their personal data in a philanthropic setting rivals the level of their expectations for the integrity of online banking. Millennials demand that digital assets be worthy of their trust.

  1. It’s all about me–and my friends

Millennials want to celebrate the causes that are most important to them. They do not want to feel pressured to give to organizations that don’t match their interests. When they get involved, they want to roll up their sleeves and understand how they can impact the capacity of the organizations they choose to support with their time and dollars. And they want to bring their friends along with them in the effort. Doing good has become a social activity, combined with a dose of peer affirmation delivered by both high-tech and high-touch means.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.