Sooner than you think, it’ll be crucial for you to better understand the giving behaviours of Gen Xers and Millennials.

From 2016 and 2026, Canada is expected to see the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in its history. Baby Boomers are anticipated to give about one trillion in personal wealth to Gen Xers and Millennials (Strategic Insights). As these younger generations come into wealth, you may be curious to know how to appeal to Millennials.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way Millennials will give through direct mail – they’ll just donate online!” Well interestingly, decades ago, the philanthropic sector was in a panic over the giving behaviours of Boomers. Yes, those same precious Boomers that now account for the majority of your direct mail donor file. Apparently, when they were in their 30s and 40s, they were less responsive to direct mail, which sent fundraisers into a tizzy. However, as these boomers grew into their 50s, 60s, and 70s, they became more engaged in direct mail. Turns out, Millennials are expected to do something similar when they reach those ages (Moceanic).

So, if Millennials are coming into great wealth, and they’ll be interested in direct mail, how can we inspire them to give?

Like angsty teens, Millennials often claim that they are nothing like the Boomer generation. And frankly, there are a great deal of differences between the perspectives of these two generations. However, when it comes to fundraising, it turns out that Millennials and Boomers aren’t so different after all. Donors of all ages, including Boomers and Millennials alike, respond well to particular best fundraising practices.

Connect the donor to the cause, not the organization

Research shows that Millennials are searching for a sense of connection. They’re looking for the opportunity to give and interact. What’s more, is they’re looking to give directly to the cause as opposed to the institution (Rideau Hall Foundation)(CanadaHelps).

Be transparent

Millennials want to see the impact of their donation. They are slightly skeptical of institutions and want evidence that you are using their gift responsibly (Rideau Hall Foundation).

Be clear and concise

Millennials expect a giving experience with little friction. They want to quickly and clearly understand what your organization does and how they can help. Be brief and specific when you highlight your impact. When possible, tie in quantitative impact. For example, how much does it cost to give someone a hot meal or a safe space to stay the night? (CanadaHelps).

To summarize

Millennials are the future. However, you don’t need to completely reinvent the wheel when it comes to communicating with Millennials via direct mail. Appealing to the interest of Millennials really isn’t far off from best fundraising practices. Continue to make the donor the hero, and clearly demonstrate your impact and you will have great success with donors of all ages.