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Earlier this month, Katie Muller represented Fairmount Ventures at the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network National Leadership Forum. Below, she shares her insights from the conference.

From March 12-14, 250 women from across the country gathered in Jacksonville, Florida to celebrate and discuss the power of collective giving grantmaking. In this model, individuals pool their money into a fund and, together, oversee a professional grantmaking process that awards funding to outstanding nonprofit organizations. Locally, the organization known for this model is Impact100 Philadelphia (of which I am a member and Fellow), but there are dozens of other organizations like it across the country.

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Photo courtesy of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network

The conference program included a list of impressive presenters, with plenary speakers from the Bezos Family Foundation and the Ms. Foundation for Women. I spoke on a panel about strategies for engaging young women in collective giving organizations, although my recommendations hold true for almost any nonprofit organization trying to involve younger adults as members or donors.

During my session and throughout the conference, I shared that organizations are most successful in attracting and retaining young professionals when they:

  • Provide opportunities for meaningful interaction. Millennials want to be more than check-writers. Involve them in volunteer opportunities and social, educational, or networking events so they can forge relationships with the organization, its supporters, and the people who benefit from its work.
  • Don’t shy away from taking a stance. Increasingly, millennials see their giving as political. Move from a charity mindset to promoting justice, equity, and activism. Position your organization as part of a greater cause.
  • Embrace diversity. Young people do not want to hear about your commitment to diversity, they want to see it— on your Board and staff rosters, within your membership, and across your partners. Create an inclusive, welcoming environment for people from diverse backgrounds and incorporate their feedback into what you do.
  • Make it easy to give. Be sure you have options to give that are accessible to young people who are early in their careers. Add discounted “young professional” price options for events or membership. Let donors and members pay month-to-month instead of up front, and harness technology like text-to-give and online platforms to make it convenient for them.
  • Show results. Although you shouldn’t retire your emotional appeals, younger adults tend to focus on measurable outcomes more than older generations. Millennial donors want to see their impact and need to know your organization is moving the needle in a concrete way.

Stay tuned for next year’s Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network conference, which will be held right here in Philadelphia!

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