I read some good news this morning. 

A recent research report published in
The NonProfit Times suggests that 55% of Generation Y (1981-91) Canadians give to charity and that on average, they give $325 (I'm assuming this is annually). The total works out to a total of about $800 million in gifts from this group.

Not bad considering this is $800 million from people who have been in the workforce for less than ten years and many of whom are paying off student loans and saving up for their first homes!

The way I look at this, though this Gen Y group still represents the least engaged market segment overall, those donors who fall into the 55% may be more passionate about giving since it's not as prevalent among their peers as in the case with older population segments. These people are choosing to do something that 45% of their peers choose not to do.

The problem is that most donor recognition circles start well above the $325 donor mark. Often, special events are offered to $1,000+ annual donors. A hand-signed letter from the ED or CEO or President is reserved for "leadership gifts" (translate: larger than $325). Lunch dates with the Director of Development are limited to major gift donors. 

Maybe it's time to stop thinking about our top donors in terms of dollar values? 

Fraser Green recently tweeted, "if i see one more donor report pic with guys in suits fondling a GIANT CHEQUE i'm gonna hurl - what about gary's $50? doesn't he matter?"

What about taking a look at that Gen Y donor list and reaching out personally to the top 10% - the ones who have made at least 2 gifts in 5 years, the ones that are monthly supporters? It may be early to talk about bequests and legacy gifts, but the special touch from you now is going to make your organization top of mind when the smart Gen Y people are making wills to protect their new families and homes.

I get a personalized, hand-signed thank you letter from 2 of the 10-12 charities my family supports annually. Guess which two are in our estate plans?

It seems that all the twitter these days is about Twitter!

I get about 10 info-tweets a day about harnessing digital media and social networking and it's all the rage in my professional circles. 

No one is a social media expert yet - we're all learning and adapting as a society. If you're like me and just starting out, here's a great Twitter primer posted by Socially Good.

The question: Is Twitter a value-added forum or simply too much information? 

To me, Twitter is the ultimate narrowcasting medium. You know exactly who your audience is, they select you and most profiles I've seen have between 50 and 500 followers, which is a small group. So, unless you can create buzz and spread your profile virally through re-tweets, this is not wide-cast marketing. That means this is a chance to have a fairly personalized, value-added conversation with the people who have chosen you.

The hardest part for me so far is that this medium literally moves at the speed of thought! I spend most of my day in information overload unable to go down all the 'rabbit holes' of valuable links that are provided to me. The other part is that because I follow such a large variety of people, I receive a completely random mish-mash of information often at times when it's not where my head is at.

The quest, can I keep up a conversation with the minds of 132 brilliant people and counting? We'll see...
I will be attending the CAGP national conference in Toronto this year from April 13-15.

Though there is always something new to learn from my colleagues, the actual education sessions were not the draw for me this year.

One of my favorite authors at the moment, Seth Godin, recently blogged about
conference attendance. Conferences are expensive and aren't always hugely valuable in terms of educational content.

The draw for me this year is going to be what Seth calls the 'engaged conversations'. So, if you're at CAGP 2011, look for me hanging out in the trade booth area and around the break tables looking to connect with my national network of gift planners and let's talk about how I can help you!
This past week, I've been watching Season 3 of the HBO series The Wire (2004). The show is an extremely complex take on drug trafficking, policing and municipal government in West Baltimore. 

Interestingly, leadership and management issues are issues addressed both in the hierarchies of the drug lords and their counterparts in the police force and government. What I didn't expect was to see a capital campaign being led by Dennis aka Cutty - a drug soldier who decides to help "hoppers" (teen boys) get off the streets and into his boxing gym.

A little unconventional in some ways, a
lot more swearing and politically volatile language, but Dennis identifies a campaign goal, designs naming opportunities, decides to focus on major gifts rather than on corporate sponsorships or smaller donations, researches his prospect and goes out to make the "ask" with written proposal in hand.
Watch what happens here (note, this clip does contain strong language):

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