News and updates from the USM Office of Advancement Research
Letter from the Director
Welcome to the April edition of Fundraising Talks. In the last month’s newsletter, we shared results from the CASE VSE Survey which reported that charitable giving to higher education in the U.S. reached its highest level in 2022. The report indicated that alumni giving increased 10.2 percent from 2021 to 2022. To continue this momentum in alumni giving, higher education institutions should develop and cultivate strong relationships with their alums to encourage and increase giving in the future. Building strong relationships with alumni begins when students choose to attend an institution and their experiences as students can make or break their status as future donors. Our institutions are preparing to celebrate commencement next month and will welcome a new alumni base of mostly Gen Z graduates.
Gen Z encompasses those born between 1997 and 2012, which means that the oldest members of this generation are twenty-six and now likely in the workforce. Gen Z’s identity is molded by the digital age, climate change, and social justice matters. Gen Z grew up using the internet extensively and are heavy users of social media. As they are the fastest-growing and youngest generation in higher education, development professionals must understand what makes them tick and engage them in diverse ways. A recent article from EAB provides insights into a few characteristics that define this group and how these characteristic shape their mindsets toward philanthropy.
Some Gen Z attributes mentioned in the article are cost-consciousness, digital proficiency, radical transparency and authenticity, multifaceted diversity, and mental health challenges. According to the EAB article, Gen Z adults may not consider supporting their alma mater, which means that institutions have to work diligently to earn their support. Institutions should take advantage of this tech-savvy group by engaging them with personalized experiences. For example, Gen Z would be more open to give through online and other virtual platforms which are quicker and easier to access. It’s also interesting to learn that Gen Z “expects multi-platform engagement opportunities, including ways to volunteer in a digital format.” Gen Z performs research online about the values and mission of an organization before they support it, therefore, organizations should provide adequate and accurate information that can be easily accessed online. Interested in social justice, Gen Z is enthusiastic about DEIJ efforts and are likely to support programs at institutions that prioritize these efforts. The article mentions that “42 percent of Gen Z have a diagnosed mental health condition.” As we mentioned previously, a student’s experience at their university can make or break their future giving behavior. Institutions should provide mental health and well-being initiatives that support their students and improve their student experience, which may potentially inspire Gen Z donors to give more.
The Gen Z alumni-base is growing and we need to find different strategic approaches to engage them in philanthropic activities. We hope that our institutions are able to increase alumni giving by establishing new and creative ways to connect with younger generations. As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments or any assistance with fundraising research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
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