Millennial Homebuying Trends

desmoinesDon’t be put off by the apparent regional focus of NPR’s October 13, 2015 news story, “Why Are Millennials Buying So Many Houses In Des Moines?” It’s packed full of interesting information about the home-buying  habits of young-ish people (born between 1982 and 2004) nationwide.

Much of the information is provided by Elora Raymond, researcher for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for, and Rachel Flint, Vice President of Suburban-Des Moines-based Hubbell Realty. These guests point out, for example, that:

  • The youngest first-time homebuyers tend to have the strongest credit rating, despite carrying a lot of student loan debt.
  • One thing that helps millennials’ credit rating is that they avoid credit card loans.
  • Another thing that helps their credit rating is that they avoid car debt; in fact, they aren’t big on car-buying at all, favoring homes in walkable areas, about a mile closer to city center than is typical for other buyers.
  • Some save up to buy a house while living in their parents’ basements.

My favorite point from the report, however, was the trend-bucking comment of recent homebuyer Dani Ausen, who says that the bold interior paint colors (orange, red and dark turquoise) “kind of sold the house to me . . . Seeing it not, like, painted all white or beige was very helpful.” So, mea culpa, I’ve repeated the industry wisdom of painting one’s home in neutral paint colors many a time.  And it’s still good advice . . . except when it isn’t!

California Passes New Equal Pay Law

The gengavel over money istockder gap is alive and well in California. According to a 2014 study by the National Women’s Law Center, a woman working full time in California still earns only 84 cents for every dollar that a man makes. For women of color, the gap is even more significant. For example, a Latina woman earns only 44 cents for every dollar that a white man makes.

On October 6, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Fair Pay Act into law. The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016, expands on California’s Equal Pay Act of 1949 and makes it easier for women to challenge discriminatory pay practices.

California employers have long been required pay to men and women equally. However, in the past, this rule applied only when the man and woman performed “equal work” in the same location. The new law relaxes this requirement, requiring equal pay for “substantially similar” work, even if the employees work in different offices or locations. The new law also encourages an open discourse about wages: Employers are not allowed to prohibit employees from discussing their wages or retaliate against them for doing so.

Another significant change is that the law shifts the burden of proof to the employer. Once an employee challenges an unequal pay practice, the employer must prove that the difference in pay is due to a legitimate factor other than gender—such as seniority, qualifications, or the quantity or quality of work. If the employer isn’t able to meet its burden, the employee can recover the difference in wages plus interest, an equal amount in liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and cost.

Will Your Nonprofit’s Crowdfunding Campaign Actually Attract a Crowd?

social-mediaOnce considered a marginal activity used mostly by individuals struggling to fund their short film or medical care, crowdfunding (setting up short-term giving campaigns on sites like Kickstarter or Indigogo) has become a necessary and normal part of any nonprofit’s fundraising activities. Devin Thorpe, author of Crowdfunding for Social Good, has been widely quoted as saying, “While crowdfunding does not constitute a complete development plan, no development plan is complete without crowdfunding.”

But the secret to this method is not, as one might imagine, in attracting a crowd of strangers from near and far. One of  the 10 Crowdfunding Tips From The 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference posted by  was that, “Contrary to what you may assume, the majority of donations for crowdfunding first come from people that you know.”

Makes sense, when you think about it. With the world getting a bit, well, crowded with crowdfunding campaigns, the odds of someone pitching in on your nonprofit’s effort when they’re busy reading solicitations for people and causes much closer to home seem small.

That’s not to say a nonprofit shouldn’t try to attract a crowd. The campaign itself can be a way to raise visibility, as friends forward the links to friends. It may give viewers a window into your group’s immediate needs, whether they end up giving or not. And to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness, you can find many free crowdfunding resources online.

There’s one more thing to think about if your nonprofit does succeed in attracting supporters from far away, however: state registration requirements. As attorney Gene Takagi notes, crowdfunding “potentially exposes the organization to the jurisdiction of every state where it is deemed to engage in charitable solicitation based on its crowdfunding efforts.” And according to Nolo author Stephen Fishman, most states “require nonprofits that solicit contributions from state residents to register with a state agency.”

This registration process can be a pain—which is why Nolo teamed up with National Corporate Research, Ltd. (NCR) to produce Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: Nolo’s 50-State Digital Guide, coauthored by NCR’s Ronald J. Barrett and Nolo’s Stephen Fishman. It’s available for just $124.99 annually and will be updated quarterly with new links, changed forms, and the latest information on registration rules and requirements.

Over One Fourth of Millennials Avoid Social Media

usmailJust when your nonprofit was starting to get comfortable with posting regular communications on social media, for the presumed sake of reaching all those tech-savvy millennials (age 20 to 35), we get this little reality check:

An estimated 27% of millennials are looking the other way. If they even have a Facebook account (Facebook being the most popular social media tool used by this group), they check it only once a week. This is according to research that Battery Ventures, a global, technology-focused investment firm, commissioned from Ipsos, an independent market-research company.

What’s more, this survey (of 1,000 people within the target age range) found that a majority (54%) said they don’t have a Snapchat account, around 41% don’t have accounts with Pinterest, 39% aren’t on Twitter, and 39% abstain from Instagram.

This doesn’t undermine the basic importance of social media. It may still reach a majority of your prospective millennial supporters, and they may share it with their online friends, and so on. Still, your nonprofit may not want to abandon those seemingly old-fashioned snail mail appeals and printed newsletters just yet.

Dear New York Times: Now You’re Covering Immigrants’ “Deportment?”

tablewareI know immigration law is complicated, but this should be a pretty easy concept to get straight: Deporting an immigrant is called “deportation.”

So when the New York Times said, in an article called “Los Angeles Rethinks Deportation of Inmates,” that the Secure Communities Program was “an Obama administration initiative that relied on local law enforcement to help with deportment efforts,” it was apparently saying that L.A. cops or prison guards are teaching etiquette to its non-citizen inmates.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that one. Shall we start with which side of the plastic tray one’s plastic dinner fork goes on?