How nonprofits can engage millennials

Millennials are important gift-givers for many nonprofits, and they have different ways of donating to charity. Members of Generation Y prefer to give and engage with causes online, according to the "2013 Millennial Impact Report" from the Case Foundation.

The study found young individuals get involved with causes they are interested in when organizations offer a variety of volunteer opportunities. When members of this generation form a long-term volunteer relationship with a nonprofit, they give larger donations and encourage friends and family members to give or volunteer as well. However, millennial involvement is usually impulsive. If young individuals are motivated by a cause, they will immediately make small donations or volunteer, but only for a short period of time.

How can nonprofits reach Generation Y?
Millennials connect with causes rather than organizations, so charities may feel challenged to engage with these young people. Organizations have to inspire individuals to act and show how they can make a difference on a wider scale, and this requires a shift from traditional public relations strategies to raise awareness. Since Gen Y prefers to use the Internet and social media for research, nonprofits need to target them through these channels.

Generation Y members may use a foundation's website to learn about a cause for the first time, but they are not likely to return to the page for updates. Instead, they will connect with the organization on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, millennials are also selective about which organizations they follow on social media because of the overwhelming amount of information on these networks. The study found young individuals engage with one to five organizations over social platforms.

Millennials prefer an online donation request that explains specifically how gifts benefit the cause. They favor website and email fundraising over telemarketing, and organizations that utilize these channels can maximize donations from this generation. When considering volunteering opportunities, millennials want online training instead of in-person education so they could volunteer anywhere. 

Although many young consumers may have limited incomes, they are interested in giving what they can. According to the report, 52 percent of millennials surveyed reported being interested in making monthly donations. Organizations that find a way to target these individuals through their preferred channels of communication can gain long-term volunteers and increase online donations. 

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