Donating to charity looks differently to each generation. Gen Z does things differently than Millennials, who do things differently than Baby Boomers. Each generation is putting their own spin on clothing, movies, technology and even how they donate to charity. It’s no longer mailing money to the charities your parents supported, but rather an immersive experience of giving that entertains and excites donors.
Here is a list of 10 of the more creative ways millennials and newer generations are donating to nonprofits and charities.
1. Raffles for experiences
Millennials are notoriously known for valuing experiences over stuff; perhaps it’s because they can only afford tiny, efficiency apartments. But, they are finding more opportunities to travel and explore more than any other generation. So charities and nonprofits have found creative ways to fundraise by raffling off experiences and vacations at fundraisers.
For example, Children’s Hospital Colorado for their big annual fundraiser raffled off a number of experiences including seven-night stay at the Brando Resort, trips to Vegas, as well as VIP hotel stays in Vail for skiing.
These go over far better than the traditional new bag of golf clubs. However, what many millennials don’t know is that when you donate to a charity raffle, charity raffle tickets are not tax-deductible.
2. Birthday charitable gifts
With the popularization of social media, people have found new ways to share their favorite causes with their social networks. Now when people have birthdays, they can share a donation portal to encourage friends to donate instead of buying them more “things.” This is an easy opportunity for friends to make a quick $5 donation to your favorite charity (thanks Facebook) and share that donation with your social network.
This has also been a popular alternative to wedding gifts for married couples. Many engaged couples have forgone the traditional wedding registry and instead request donations in their name. This helps support the couple’s favorite causes without needing to return the 3rd Instapot they’ll likely receive.
3. Bar/restaurants donating 1% to charity
It’s no secret that millennials love eating/drinking out. In fact, so much so that their generation has spurred the term “foodie.” A “foodie” is classified as someone who Instagrams’ their favorite food trucks, food halls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
Besides the food, restaurants are continuously looking for opportunities to set themselves apart and encourage new customers. Special events like “1% of All Revenue Going to Charity” is a huge draw for new customers and a nice way to support the community.
These events are often only a single day or month, but it is enough to bring in a new crowd of millennials through the door and gain some much-wanted attention. Other local restaurants may promise to donate their marketing budgets to local charity organizations and community efforts. Either way, its marketing and millennials are here to support those efforts.
4. Donating stuff to charity
This may not seem like a new way Millennials are donating to charity, but millennials are doing it in new ways. Millennials are known for job-hopping and the most willing to move to new cities. These new opportunities provide space to recycle wardrobes and remove clutter.
Often, millennials are in favor of donating their old clothing and furniture rather than struggling with Craigslist ads for the convenience and positive karma. Organizations like Goodwill, Ark and others have a number of drop off points where millennials can donate their old stuff for a new home with relative ease.
5. Relay races & marathons for charity
Millennials are categorized to be born from 1981 to 1996, meaning that they range in age from 23 to 38. These are the ages, shortly after college, where people enter the real world and look for new fun ways to stay in shape. While there are numerous 5k, 10k and marathons to participate in. The races that support specific causes garner larger crowds and huge numbers for charity.
While most 5Ks only generate a couple thousand dollars for charity, they help in other ways such as spreading the charity’s message, generating local buzz and creating engagement through the runners who train for months for the event. Millennials are at the forefront of these events, helping support these races and the causes they support. It’s a symbiotic relationship: getting in shape and supporting a good cause.
6. Knitting hats, scarves and mittens for charity
Donating to charity doesn’t always have to be money. There are a number of organizations that need crafts and crafters. Organizations like “Warm Up America” send knitted hats (and more) to people in need. They have a current needs page where they list what’s a need, but more often than not hospitals need blankets or hats for people in the winter. Once you finish knitting your item, send it to one of the addresses on their needs page!
So far they have over 20,000 volunteers knitting and crocheting items, and to date created over 1,000,000 clothing items for people in need. This is a nice alternative for millennials with certain skills and not a lot of money.
7. Donate hair
We all know someone with a long mane of hair that’s growing it for charity. These people are heroes. It may seem a bit odd, but hair is something in need just like blood. Donating hair is another way to donate to a charity that doesn’t require any money. A well-known organization that organizes these hair donations is “Wigs for Kids.”
If you’re considering donating your hair, here are some general guidelines:
- The hair must be at least 12-inches long. However, 15-inches is generally recommended.
- Wrap the hair in a number of rubber bands (2-3 inches apart) and seal (dry) in a Ziploc bag.
- The hardest part is making sure the hair isn’t permed, color-treated or highlighted.
Overall, however, it’s pretty easy to donate hair.
8. Donate your pantry when moving
As mentioned before, millennials are more open to moving to new cities and states for job opportunities. Something to consider during that moving transition is all the unopened food in your pantry that will haunt you with guilt if you throw it away. Organizations like Move For Hunger will come to your home and help pack up all of the food you would normally leave behind and donate these supplies to local food banks.
Food is always in need. Why not help while emptying your apartment/house and donate all of the food otherwise going to waste? This is an easy way to donate to charity and receive help cleaning out your pantry.
9. Amazon Smile
Millennials shop online more than any other generation in history, and there is no bigger online retailer than Amazon. What most people don’t know is that Amazon has its own charity service called Amazon Smile. A program that donates 0.5% of the purchase price on eligible products (marked on Amazon) to charities of your choice. That’s 0.5% of Amazon’s profit they donate to your charity. You’re not paying any extra, and it’s a passive way to donate to charity without spending any extra money. Just buy one of the “tens of millions” of products listed on Amazon that identify as “Amazon Smile eligible.”
If you’re interested in registering for Amazon Smile, know that it’s free, and all that’s required is for you to choose your favorite charity from over one million nonprofits listed on Amazon Smile.
From then on, Amazon automatically donates 0.5% of your Amazon purchases to the charity you’ve chosen. As of February 2018, Amazon has donated over $80,000,000 to charity through its Amazon Smile program.
10. Survey apps
Technology is the language of millennials. So it’s no wonder that companies are finding new ways to create apps & websites to help millennials support nonprofits. Websites like Free Rice host games and puzzles where each right answer earns real money for charity. In the case of Free Rice, each question answered correctly generates 10 grains of rice for people in need, all supported from the ads you see while playing the game. Free Rice is owned by the United Nations World Food Program, but the concept can be applied to any nonprofit.
We admit it’s a pretty catchy game. In fact, we’re up 200 grains of rice and still playing instead of finishing this article….