Sunday, August 18, 2013

that is happiness

"At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep."
       -Willa Cather, My Antonia

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Give Time or Money? Do Both.

A new report called "The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generations Y, X, Boomers, and Matures" was recently released by Blackbaud. While this survey size for this online study was a bit small, with 1,014 respondents, it did yield some interesting results, and a pretty cool infographic!

 The report touched on an issue that is near and dear to me... and my opinion on it probably will make me unpopular:

We asked donors which forms of support they feel makes the biggest difference for the causes that they support. Choices included monetary donations, volunteering, promoting causes by word of mouth, in-kind donations, policy advocacy, and fundraising on the causes' behalf.

According to Boomers and Matures, money matters most. Strong pluralities of Matures (48 percent) and Boomers (45 percent) say that monetary donations make the biggest difference. The focus on money declines with age: only 36 percent of Generation X and 25 percent of Generation Y think they can make the most difference by donating money. 

Conversely, Generation Y donors think they can make the biggest difference by volunteering (30 percent) and by spreading the word to others about the charity and its work (18 percent). But while they value volunteering, Gen Y donors are actually less likely than Matures to say they have actually volunteered for a cause in the past year. (p. 12)

Is it more important to donate your time or donate your money? I believe that both are absolutely valuable, and both are absolutely necessary.

Many charities could not survive without people who volunteer directly with clients (e.g. volunteers at a soup kitchen, a youth recreation program, etc.), volunteer on the board, or volunteer to be "raving fans" and community advocates for the cause, spreading the word to community leaders and to other potential volunteers and donors.

I can't think of any charities that could survive without monetary donations.

Yes, it's true that many in Generation Y have less disposable income than those in older generations. They are newer in their careers and may be paying off student loans. But that argument can extend to every generation:
  • Gen X may *still* be paying off student loans, as well as new mortgages, childcare expenses, school tuitions or college costs for their kids, or the costs of launching businesses
  • Baby Boomers may be paying (or paying off loans for) college tuitions, supporting elderly parents, supporting Gen Y children, and saving aggressively for retirement
  • Matures may be living on fixed income and dealing with high healthcare costs
So, in a nutshell, I don't think the "we can't afford to give" argument cuts it, generally. Everyone has their financial burdens, and everyone makes choices about how to allocate their funds.

I think that one part of the problem may rest with charities and fundraisers themselves. People think that their gift only matters if it's large. I always talk to clients (the charitable organizations with which I consult) about encouraging their donors to make personally meaningful gifts. One person's $25 gift may be just as meaningful to them (and just as much of a stretch for them) as someone else's $2,500 or $25,000 gift. I don't think the charitable sector has, overall, done a good job of communicating this message.

This message matters because people need to get into a habit of giving in order for great charities to survive. Today's $25 donor becomes a $2,500 (or more) in 10 years. If you have never been in the habit of giving, it seems to me that you will be less likely to start giving later on.

I also am struck by the statistic on Gen Y and volunteering. Gen Y thinks they can make the biggest difference by volunteering, but they are less likely than Matures to say they have volunteered over the past year. Yes, Matures may be retired and have more free time. But the study doesn't say that they are less likely to report that they have volunteered over the past week, or the past month. It's the past YEAR. If you can't find one hour of time to donate over the course of a year, but you still say that you can make the biggest difference by volunteering... you're not walking the talk.

What is your take on some of these generational issues?

You can download the report by viewing the infographic and then filling out the form to get the whole report.