Day 2 at NCVS: Learning about Millennials

My favorite session today was Demystifying the Millennial Volunteer, led by Derrick Feldmann and Kari Saratovsky.  Super informative and surprising, helping me to understand how and why GenY get involved in service.  You know the session is good if the room has a full audience, despite an overlapping happy hour with free drinks.  (A painful decision for me, but the right one!)  Here are some of the take-away lessons:

Kari Saratovsky

Derrick Feldman

1. Everyone interested in Millennials should check out The Millennial Donor Survey.  Most of the session was a summary of the survey’s results.

2. 93% of Millennials gave to nonprofits in 2010. 58% said that their single largest gift was less than $150.  This bodes well for Pando, because it shows that Millennials are comfortable giving in smaller increments.  Hopefully our Project Leaders will find that their friends are happy to donate $10 or $20 to fund their projects.

3. Millennials are motivated by: (a) compelling mission/cause, (b) personal connection with leadership, and (c) friend or peer endorsement.  The most important thing is to feel a real connection to the issue being addressed.  I’m really curious about this – – it was always my impression that people donated disproportionately to fund aid initiatives in developing nations.  Are people more likely to donate to an initiative that seems tragic, or to an initiative that addresses a problem that they have personally experienced?  Not sure…

4. A google search is the #1 way that Millennials find information about nonprofits. This really surprised me… There are so many websites that connect people with the stories of nonprofits (Idealist, Jumo, CrowdRise, CitizenEffect, Global Giving…)  Why would people use a random Google search when they can use one of these websites for an easy, catered experience?  I guess the Millennial love-affair with Google continues.

5. 79% of Millennials volunteered in 2010.  This is high!  Really, really high!  I can’t help but smile with glee.  Millennials DO want to volunteer and do good.  If there are 80 million Millennials and 63 million volunteered in 2010, then the potential market demand for Pando will be huge.  Even if only 0.01% of those volunteers want to start their own projects, that’s still an annual demand of 6,300!  Pretty good…

Kari and Derrick talking at the conference

6. Millennials like when nonprofits expose their weaknesses.  It makes the project more compelling.  This is something I’ve long considered.  How do I strike the balance between showing how Pando is growing beautifully, and admitting that we’re really new and trying to figure things out?  Dror recently sent me a study that articulates the need for organizations to exude both competence and warmth.  I’ll work on how honesty can also be a part of that equation.


About Milena Arciszewski

I'm the Founder of PandoProjects, which empowers people to step up as leaders and develop innovative, local solutions to the problems in their communities. You can reach me at or follow me on twitter: @pandoprojects.
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1 Response to Day 2 at NCVS: Learning about Millennials

  1. Thanks for the great write-up on our panel Milena, glad you enjoyed the session. We were really pleased with the energy in the room and hope that you and your readers will join us on June 22, when we dig into these same issues a little deeper during our virtual MIllennial Donor Summit. Registration is still open – and your virtual seat awaits! You can learn more and register at

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