Friday, September 24, 2010

Gen Y & Charitable Giving

by guest blogger, Tanya Dobbs, Charities Review Council marketing intern

The next wave of younger generations is quickly becoming a highly prioritized target for organizations who seek to encourage on-going, active participation within the nonprofit sector. While the Charities Review Council works to encourage informed giving for all people of all ages, Generation Y remains to be one of the most elusive generations when it comes to philanthropy. Individualistic, realistic and technologically advanced, Generation Y has the potential to become the next generation of charitable donors. If you can manage to catch their attention.

As a twenty-two year old member of Generation Y, it is easy for me to understand the challenges nonprofits have when trying to attract younger donors. Gen Y, otherwise affectionately deemed “Generation Me,” is often stereotypically labeled spoiled, self-centered and materialistic. I have to say it is hard not to be slightly offended by these various adjectives, especially when I recognize the immeasurable potential younger generations have when it comes to nonprofits and charitable giving. Generation Y has grown in an age of extreme innovation and technological advancements in a way that no other generation before them has and it greatly affects the way the average 18-29 year old communicates. With the vast array of technology at the touch of any Gen-Yer’s fingertips, nonprofits are now setting the standard with how they must learn to communicate with upcoming generations.

A 2010 study by Convio Research shows that 56% Generation Y does give to charities. When given the opportunity, I have seen first-hand the willingness of people my age to donate. In the wake of Haiti, I was astonished at the number of my friends and classmates who jumped on the mobile giving bandwagon in order to raise money for disaster relief. Why? Possibly because commercials from text-to-give challenges were played endlessly on channels like MTV, challenging young people to consider giving, however small the amount. Social media sites such as Facebook  also have managed to tap into the elusive Generation Y. The Convio study confirms that websites, social networking and mobile giving are the top preferred channels of solicitation from charities. Opportunities for donations from Generation Y also seem to be most effective when presented with a specific problem that needs urgent help, such as disaster relief or cancer foundations; it also stresses the importance of nonprofits to master multi-channel marketing strategies.

In my opinion, I believe the encouraged individualism of Generation Y has created a desire for younger people to become involved in something bigger than themselves. When presented with a problem, I have high faith that Generation Y can be easily encouraged by the importance of donating. If nonprofits can learn to communicate effectively on Gen-Y’s own terms through their preferred media channels, you may be surprised at how many of us young people can get excited about donating!

About Tanya Dobbs
Tanya is currently the marketing intern at the Charities Review Council. She is a senior at Metropolitan State University pursuing a B.A. in professional writing and looking forward to her anticipated graduation this fall.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Being Intentional on a Small Budget

Like Helen mentioned in her blog post last week, I too, am a planner and like to have a budget. But as you can imagine, as a recent college graduate just finding her sea legs in the "real world", I'm not exactly sitting on a mountain of money. So in order for me to ensure my dollars have an impact, I've chosen to invest them in just two organizations that I feel passionately about and am intimately involved with as a volunteer.

Now, if I had a budget comparable to that of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, my strategy might be a little different, but the reality is, I'm just learning what it is like to have disposable income. So when I decided to create my modest charitable budget, I first evaluated my essential expense, and then picked the percentage of my income that I wanted--and was able--to invest back into my community.

With a rough dollar amount in mind, I chose two organizations whose missions closely matched my values and whose existences, I feel, play an integral part in my community. I am an active volunteer with both of these nonprofits as well, which gives me insight and confidence that my gift will be used responsibly. Additionally, being highly engaged makes my financial contribution that much more meaningful to me because I am personally invested in the life of these organizations.

I still budget for those sporadic requests from friends and family, but in light of my intentional focus, I do a little research before I turn over my contribution. I determine my gift based on how closely the mission of the organization matches the values I've elected to support, and I use the Charities Review Council's charity search to be assured that the organization is meeting basic sector standards of accountability.

While it wasn't long ago that every extra dollar earned was used to pay tuition, I have finally arrived at a point where I can be intentional and proactive with my giving. I'm still not a billionaire able to give away 50% of my worth to various charitable causes, but I've chosen to add charitable contributions to my budget and to be prudent with how those precious dollars are spent.

How have you chosen to be intentional with your giving on a small budget?

Check out Amy's blog post in two weeks about how to be strategic with your giving when you also need to consider the thoughts and opinions of your family.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Planning and budgeting for charitable giving

I admit it. I am a planner. I plan everything from what I am going to focus on at work each day to what my family will have for dinner each week. A plan helps me focus. So naturally, I also like to create a plan and budget for my charitable giving.

By budgeting and planning ahead, I know how much I can afford to give and I am more proactive rather than reactive in my giving. Planning a budget also helps me say “No” to charities that I don’t know. Realistically, no one can support everything, and I am less likely to respond to pressure and on-the-spot requests if my giving plan concentrates only on causes that I have already identified. I also like to set aside some funds for unexpected requests such as disaster relief.

Planning doesn’t come naturally to all, but here are few tips from the Charities Review Council to get started.

• Review your giving priorities. What top issues match your values and interest? This can become your unique personal giving statement, encompassing your personal experience, the values and issues you hold dear.

• How much of your income and assets you want to use for “social investment,” or charitable giving? Divide that amount between your priority areas in a sensible manner that reflects the weight of each priority area … but it’s also wise to allocate some for the “unexpected.” Recent events have reminded us that unexpected disasters do happen, and they move us to want to help the victims of those disasters.

• Now find charities that effectively work toward the priority areas you’ve identified. You can use the Charities Review Council’s Charity Search to streamline your search using keywords.

• Check to see if the Council has reviewed the organizations you’ve selected. Visit the Council’s website to view our listing of reviewed organizations. Review results offer helpful information such information about the organization’s mission and programs.

Does budgeting work for you? Share your thoughts with us.