How to reach millennial contributors

July 1, 2014

How to reach millennial contributors

Millennials, or people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, currently make up the 18-to-34 demographic that is coveted by businesses and nonprofit organizations alike. The major value similarity is in the lifetime value that a millennial can bring to both a charitable group and a private company. If an organization can successfully and consistently engage a member of this generation, the amount of money donated and the contributions provided can be high. The difference, and major advantage, for nonprofits seeking this demographic is that millennials are especially interested in the causes promoted by such groups and can be more easily courted in some instances than members of older demographics. In fact, according to research from The Case Foundation, 87 percent of millennials donated to charity in the past year.

Here are a few tactics that nonprofits can consider when targeting millennials to improve engagement and encourage contributions:

  • Tell stories and challenge them: Marketing blog HubSpot pointed to storytelling as one method that is particularly effective for outreach to young donors, especially when it comes to nonprofit campaigns. Because millennials are used to being immersed not only in technology, but also the stories that come along with this technology through social media, text messaging and other forms of digital contact, turning a mission statement into a more story-based approach can help. Additionally, telling the tale of specific people who were helped by a nonprofit can also be effective. Providing the "before" story, as in describing the current conditions that a charitable group is trying to change for the better, and then challenging a potential donor to help the cause can also be effective.
  • Focus on people: Nonprofit marketing consultant John Haydon provided the important reminder that people, not institutions, are the main focus of millennials.While the power and prestige of charitable organizations themselves were a major focus for older generations such as baby boomers, the same isn't true for the youngest adult demographic. These youthful people are more focused on the individuals that an organization serves as opposed to the organization as a whole. There are two major ways this generational shift can be used to nonprofits' advantage. In addition to storytelling, the second big advantage is allowing millennials to share information with their friends and family about a cause, which allows them to help contribute to positive change about an issue they care about. This can be easily facilitated through a nonprofit's social media efforts.

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