2 reasons why your Charlotte nonprofit is having trouble raising money

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(Note: Michelle is the owner of Dragonfly Consulting, a fundraising consulting firm. This is part of our First Person series.)

If you are a small to medium sized Charlotte-area nonprofit, chances are that you are not raising enough money to make the impact you want.

With over 2,247 registered 501(c)3 nonprofits in the Charlotte area, the competition for donations in a city of over 800,000 people can still be hard pressed.

There are many potential reasons why a nonprofit has difficulty raising funds, but there is one reason that is causing nonprofits across the world to trip over themselves trying to keep up: the literal way in which a person donates.

Charlotte has a growing millennial demographic, and while this generation is freer with their money than previous generations, it has also created a drastic shift in how nonprofits should look at raising money. Let’s use my father as an example in this case: He is a 60+-year-old card-carrying member of AARP who wears dad jeans, sandals with socks, and can only drink one beer before getting the giggles. Like clockwork, my father gives to two charities every December. He writes them a check after receiving his donation envelope in the mail. He reads their (paper) newsletter from cover to cover and could probably recite their mailing address by heart.

Raise your hand if your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, do the same.

This type of giving is no longer the norm.

These days, we want something fast and we don’t want to pull out a debit card. We don’t often carry cash and our checkbooks live in the bottom of a filing cabinet.

At the same time, the millennial generation is more likely to donate to more organizations in a calendar year.

This generation donates by “Text 4431 to Donate NOW!”, or they purchase a limited-edition shirt, or they attend a beer release party at a local brewery where a “donation” of $20 gets you a can of the Instagrammable brew.

The problem comes with the inconsistency of these donations. They are one-offs and sporadic. They require more effort and more moving parts. Nonprofits have been conditioned to run on consistency.

If they do not adapt, they will miss out on a millennial donation.

If nonprofits can adjust their tactics to fit with their new millennial donors, their fundraising could be limitless.

Make no mistake: Millennials do not care less than their predecessors, they just have a different way of showing it. It’s the theory of “meeting them where they’re at”and nonprofits must rise to the occasion of reaching this new demographic. Charlotte must start embracing the nonprofit community to help them cultivate this new shift in fundraising.

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