CEO Insights: Young Donors Inspire Big Donations

January 22, 2020
3 min
A grid of shapes, a portrait photo of Justin Wheeler, and the words "CEO Chat".
Justin is Funraise's CEO, a co-founder, and a bad-ass, experienced nonprofit fundraiser. Like a true fundraiser-turned-founder, he breaks down the concepts behind Funraise's mission everywhere he can make nonprofits' voices heard.

I've raised tens of millions of dollars through the generosity of high school and college students.

At one organization, we built up a million-dollar-plus annual recurring donor program with an initial appeal at $3/month. I hear nonprofits all the time discount young donors and not budget for fundraising strategies to reach them.

This is a HUGE mistake.

There are two significant benefits in running what I call a Young Donor Program:

  1. They give you WAY more than their money. They show up when you need them most.
  2. They are the gatekeeper to even more dollars. I've seen this play out time and time again. When a student is inspired by a nonprofit, it motivates their parents to give more.

If your goal is to be around in the next couple of decades, start investing in a Young Donor Program now.

Can't listen to the video? Scroll down to read the transcript.

Video Transcript
You know, if you look at like businesses for it, for example, or I mean, just look at the nonprofit community, oftentimes that donors that are being kind of, you know, promoted the most are these big foundations or these high net worth donors, which is finding that there's those types of donors are very important organizations. But what you're saying is what you have found is that it's the young people that we've inspired, the small amounts of money that have actually, you know, have caused individuals with more capacity to do more because they see. And that's that's. And I think that you guys just recently ran a campaign. Yeah. Just bring that up. Yes. That's just such a tangible example. So this, this little girl named Nora, she's six years old, sent in a donation. She watched The Spring film, which is how we launched the spring. We created a 20-minute film. That's really Scott's story. And then how his story became the story of a million people who supported charity: water. And it ends with a very explicit ask to join this monthly giving community. It's really it's helped drive a lot of people into the program and I think does a really good job of introducing the idea of this community. But this girl had seen the video on her dad's phone. She walked in, she says, six years old. She tells the story. She went into her bedroom. She laid in her bed, and she thought, should I give my money to charity: water or shouldn't I? And the next morning, she came downstairs with her little handbag and dumped out her money on the table. And she's like, Mom, I want to send. I want to send some money. So we get an envelope in the mail that has a $5 bill, a $2 bill, a $1 bill, a dime and a nickel and a little photo of her and a handwritten note that says, I don't want people to die from dirty water. So I'm sharing some of my money and we're like, who? What? Who is this girl? And what's the thought process when you're like, do I include a nickel like it? Yeah, I should do it. It was just so compelling. And we wanted to highlight her story and invite people to follow her lead. So for World Water Day last year, we invited our audience to match her donation, $8.15. And proved to her really she believed that $8.15 will make a huge difference. Let's prove to Nora just how big of a difference it can really make. And what was awesome is we had like $8.15 pre-filled form. Yeah, but people kept changing the amount they would give variations. It was like $80.15 or $108.15. And one woman gave $15,000. Wow. Yeah. So it's just like such an awesome proof point that those small stories inspire really big ones. How much do you raise on that day? World Water Day Oh, it was about $75,000 in total. So, yeah, is this the six-year-old girl inspired hundreds of donors to give $75,000? Yeah. In one day just because she saw this video.

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