Grandfather looking down and smiling at his grandson

Next Generation Donors

“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt” (Exodus 1:8).

Joseph saved Egypt by saving grain during the seven good years of plenty and wisely managing the food supply during the seven years of famine. Many lives were spared because of his good stewardship (see Gen. 50:20). Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Joseph and his generation died. Pharoah died and a new Pharoah came to power. He saw the children of Israel as a growing threat and forced them into slavery.

Donor support doesn’t automatically pass from one generation to the next. Psalm 37:26 reminds us that the righteous, “are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.” Major donors often raise generous children, but if your ministry means nothing to those children, they will be a blessing to another charity. How can you keep the children of your major donors engaged after their parents or grandparents have passed to Glory? Consider these four strategies.

Include Them
If you’re not a school or university, you might not know the sons and daughters of your key donors. Major donors have many giving interests. Some do a great job of teaching their children to be generous and include them in their giving decisions, but many children and grandchildren are disconnected from your ministry. Encourage your donors to invite them to events. When they attend, introduce yourself and get to know them.

Interest Them
Everyone has personal giving motivations. The fact that their parents or grandparents supported your ministry is a plus, but retaining the next generation requires you to discover their individual giving interests. Perhaps your major donor loves sports, but the kids are interested in music. Discover what moves your younger donors and align your asks with their hearts. They might give a token gift for old times’ sake but could give an amazing gift to fund their passions.

Involve Them
Today’s donors are different than donors of the past. This generation doesn’t just want to give money, they want to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty with their time, talent, and treasure. They want to see results and are not necessarily loyal to institutions. Take advantage of this attitude and find ways to connect these donors with your ministry. Involved donors are generous donors.

Inspire Them
If you’re going to cultivate and keep the next generation of major donors, you must capture their hearts and minds. You must reinvent yourself with a “This is not your grandparent’s charity” attitude. Honor the past but take new ground for Christ. New problems need creative new solutions. In what innovative ways are you solving today’s problems?

Think About This: One Christian university developed an endowment strategy to attract younger donors. They ask major donors to establish an endowed scholarship in their children’s name. The minimum for this endowed scholarship is $25,000 and can be funded over five years. Donors provide the initial monies for this endowment with the goal of encouraging their son or daughter to continue giving to the scholarship. Essentially, they are helping their children create their own legacies.

Response: Father, please give us creative ideas to challenge the next generation of major donors to partner with us.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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