Masters Thesis

Where philanthropy begins: annual giving for a younger generation

The desire to help others is an essential part of an individual’s motivation to give; this desire is timeless. This consistency cannot be said about other aspects of fundraising. Social media has been game changing; it has affected how gifts are made and what organizations receive them. In order to reach many younger donors, organizations need to have an online presence. There are many changes with the way individual’s access information. Social media has allowed people to constantly be connected. Technology has allowed information to be shared quickly and in real time. Likeminded individuals can interact online. This has allowed even small grassroots organizations not just large well known nonprofits to engage with many donors they might not have reached. Fundraising organizations must make changes to propel themselves into the future and continue to grow. The age group and generation of an individual is another factor that has created changes for giving. Younger generations want to interact with nonprofits differently than previous generations. Successful nonprofits must adapt and create new ways to engage these newer generations. In addition, to meeting the needs of younger generations, foundations must stay true to the needs of current and longtime donors. Being able to successfully meet the needs and wants of various ages will allow an organization to have a continuous pipeline of donors. There have been limited groups created to engage younger generations, specifically the youngest individuals of Generation X and the Millennial Generation. This paper will explore how to best attract and engage adults between 20-40 years of age with a focus on Kern County. The Legacy Circle at Mercy, an annual giving club from the Friends of Mercy Foundation was built specifically to create and find young philanthropists. The group is now beginning its second year and will be evaluated to determine if the strategy is effective for engaging individuals from Generation X and the Millenials. There will be a review of the formation and first year and a half of the club, in order to determine if the Legacy Circle is a best practice. The paper will examine if the Friends of Mercy Foundation is using effective methods to continue increasing their pipeline of donors with future patrons.

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