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Millennials, the Giving Kind

Nothing cracks me up like reading articles about my generation. Sometimes the media can make it seem like us Millennials are a mythic beast, waiting to be figured out, with secrets to be unlocked. It seems every day there is a new article trying to expose us, telling the public how we think, what we eat, wear and buy, how we love, what we care about, and so on. But finally I read one that isn’t so far off.

Here’s a post from the CCS Fundraising blog about how to cultivate the Millennial donorship base. Their suggestion? Do it online. It may be sad but true that my peers aren’t as patient as our parents’ generation, who could sit and listen by phone to a sales pitch, be wined and dined by a fundraiser, and read documents longer than a page about an organization. I don’t mean to be demeaning of my own generation. All I’m saying is that we, as a generation, evaluate things differently from how previous generations had: We look for things relevant to our lives in that moment. Logic and reason may not resonate with us as much as empathy and inspiration will. Perhaps that is why social media is the best tool for engaging us as donors.

You want to get us to donate to your clean-water charity? Tweet a picture of that boy’s smiling face, who is finally healthy now that he is living off of clean water. We’ll see that picture while riding the bus and, for a moment, you will have inserted your message into our life’s craziness in a way that we find perfectly natural. Though the moment of empathy you inspire will be brief, it will be one that over time just may turn us into your next donor.

Engaging Millennials: The Next Generation of Donors

By Jeremy Woolf, New Media and Corporate Communications Director, CCS

What’s your non-profit organization’s plan to engage Millennials? It’s the question now that all non-profit organizations are trying to answer, as many work to diversify funding streams and strengthen the engagement of their Millennial groups (16-34 years old), who can become current donors and volunteers as well as the donors and volunteers of tomorrow.

U.S. Millennials Will Outnumber Non-Millennials by 22 Million by 2030

According to the U.N. Department of Economic Social Affairs, in 2011, Millennials aged 16-34 outnumbered Boomers aged 47-65 by 79 million to 76 million.  By 2030, they predict there will be 78 million Millennials and only 56 million Boomers.

These born techies are your next donors. According to the Boston Consulting Group’s 2012 report, The Millennial Consumer, U.S. Millennials are:

  • Extremely comfortable with technology
  • Digital natives, meaning that they’ve largely grown up with technology and social media
  • On social media platforms more than non-Millennials, 79% vs 59%
  • Far more likely than non-Millennials to favor brands that have Facebook pages and mobile websites, 33% vs 17%

Here are 5 tips you can put in place NOW that will pave the way for future success with Millennial donors:

1. Diversify your social networks. If you do not already have accounts set up, you should develop a presence for your organization on all social networks that Millennials use regularly, such as Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn. But don’t be shy about testing out new networks!  Try Google+ to share your organization’s news. Post pre-event photos to Instagram, or create a Pinterest board to see if you can catch the eye of future prospects you do not already have a relationship with. Pew Internet reported in December 2012 that 67% of adults use social networking sites. They report that:

  • 67% of online adults say they use Facebook
  • 16% of online adults say they use Twitter
  • 15% of online adults say they use Pinterest
  • 13% of online adults say they use Instagram
  • 6% of online adults say they use Tumblr

And stay on top of the next big technological explosion! Check Mashable regularly for new tools out there and be sure to test and learn! If it’s a new technology, it’s bound to be swarming with Millennials.

2. Cast a wide net. Even if they cannot donate today, it is crucial to invest some time in casting a wide net on social media to reach Millennials. They are an essential component of your organization’s future, so share your message broadly. Try to become as visible as possible and connect with as many potential supporters as you can. You never know who will become a supporter down the road! Engage those interested in your cause with posts, surveys, questions and volunteer opportunities.

3. Develop informal social partnerships. Determine the pages and groups that relate to your cause for each major social media channel (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and develop “social” relationships with them. See if the group organizers are willing to post messages from your organization or allow you to post it yourself. This will enable you to connect with Millennials who might want to get involved. Determine the main hashtags (example: #ccsfundraising ) for these groups and causes, and use them in all of your posts.

4. Explore new social media widgets for your website. Twitter and Facebook offer free widgets to share social media content. Sites such as ShareThis provide robust tools to share and link-to social media events and postings all at once for free. By asking your existing Millennial supporters to “share” your message via their own social networks, they are giving your organization a credible voice by publicly showing their support and also finding potential donors for the future.

5. Include social media in everything you do. Does your organization have an annual event? Post photos afterwards.  Try creating a photo book using Flickr, Google+ or Facebook and sharing a link to it with all annual event attendees.  Do you participate in conferences? Tweet from them using hashtags that will pick up new followers.  This will build stickiness with your supporters and influence others to connect with you you as well.

How is your organization using social media to connect with Millennials? Comment below or share your ideas with CCS on LinkedInFacebook or Twitter.  For more tips on harnessing social media to support your organization’s mission, visit CCS’s Mission-Minded Media blog.  Questions about this blog post? or comment below.

  1. Old person snark: Just because I don’t donate onawhim to the worthy cause flying by on fb makes me no less INspired, IMpassioned, and ONfire than some young whippersnapper slappin 10 on the AmEx or MC! (Harumph, muttered the grizzled nag.)

    So. The piece you cite by Jeremy Woolf is right on target. He’s a fundraiser in the purest sense: he does WHAT WORKS for donors. Any fundraiser who knows his business does that. He id’s the target group, determines what reaches them, how to reach them, and weighs in. Then listens to see how well he’s listened thus far.

    It’s your assessment that gets my goat (cue: meh). I DON’T like sales pitches, will NOT be winddind, and weekly recycle tired begletters by the ream. I do, however, care a LOT about my community, the world at hand, and what kind of life my kids will find when they are adults. I ALSO suffer profoundly from a debilitating condition experienced by 99.9% of humanity: I do not have unlimited resources (Biil, Warren, Shel – you can stop reading now). As a result, while I am often moved by the flyby needs liked by my fbfriends – as distinct yes from the other kind – I think pretty hard about where and how I spend my time and money and respond less instinctively to importantsounding pleas. (Unfortunately, my resistingthepurchaseoflifechangingart muscles are far less well developed.) Meaning I want to feel like my little bit matters, so I need to feel like I’m building on something, that my effort can strengthen and reinforce and augment what I’ve done before, that my small difference can help usher in other small – or larger – differences.

    Anyway, one big U Rah for superannuated old goats. And our staid blase ways. We rock. Yeah.

    P.S. But I do love my millenials 🙂

  2. I’m pretty sure my argument was actually much kinder toward your generation of donors. I said, “Logic and reason may not resonate with us as much as empathy and inspiration will,” meaning that I see my parents’ generation using reason (i.e. wanting to know long-term outcomes) as reasons to give, where I notice people my age being persuaded by things that leave them impassioned in that moment. Wouldn’t that then mean that mine is a more impulsive generation? So I think I complemented the way your generation thinks about giving.

    I don’t think that your generation’s passion for the organization in the long-term is any less meaningful, it’s just that the methods taken to get you to be that donor looked very different (i.e. you will probably actually take the time to read longer literature on the org than someone of my gen would).

  3. So forgive me the hyperbole it’s an irresistible urge in this medium. After all, do you really know me as an ALLCAPS TYPE? I was just trying to convey the mindframe that MY generation was raised with: the allpower of science (reason), the strength of commitment to principle (Woodstock), and the (fleeting) notion that Boomers engineered the End of History (see Fukuyama, 20th Century). Hence: put your money behind your values, where the results matter heart and purse. The method: sweat, augmented by social media. (c.f., Foster Dogs NYC) Meaning – I don’t read the literature. It’s just WORDS. I check it out. (And I trust friends.) I think rather than your complimenting the old people, millenials complement old people ways with flexibility in communications.

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