‘Millennial’ is more than a buzzword for nonprofits

July 22, 2014

‘Millennial’ is more than a buzzword for nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations that want to connect to younger people to raise awareness and encourage contributions should understand the broad-based motivations and attitudes of the millennial generation. While some of the pop culture assertions made in the media about the youngest generation in the workforce don't necessarily hold up to focused scrutiny, there are some basic behavioral patterns and preferences that do apply to many of the young adults and college students that make up this group. Tapping into these generational values can help charitable groups create more engaging outreach, as well as more effective fundraising campaigns. Here are three pieces of advice nonprofits should take into account when dealing with millennials:

  • Understand what's important to them: Millennials have different priorities than the members of Generation X, just as the members of that cohort differ from their baby boomer parents. Millennials tend to be more connected to the use of mobile devices more so that older people, and are often more willing to share some personal information as long as the transaction benefits them as well. They also tend to place a higher value on goodwill and helping the community, with the caveat that they want specific information about how their money or volunteer hours are contributing to the cause. Focusing outreach and fundraising efforts on mobile campaigns – whether through apps, social media or email – can help attract millennials, as can providing in-depth data about the progress of a given campaign.
  • Don't underestimate their desire to be involved: The Nonprofit Marketing Blog made a good point about millennials: they generally want to participate, even if they don't have the money to be able to make a donation. While this observation will change as millennials become more entrenched in the workforce and move up in the ranks, offering a volunteer option along with a chance to contribute financially can drive engagement. Maintaining a positive connection with volunteers can also eventually lead to monetary gifts down the line.
  • Attitude shifts are present, but not as serious as some suspect: research from San Diego State University as reported in the Harvard Business Review found that the differences in opinion between millennials and the older generations aren't as entrenched as many think. For nonprofits, this means that the overall message of a specific campaign doesn't need to change much. More focus should be placed on how to best reach young contributors.

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