Targeting millennials: the challenge and solution for nonprofits

If you want someone to be as enthusiastic about a cause as you, then strike up a conversation with a millennial. Members of this generation are known for their bursting passion and abundant vivacity, making them the perfect target for charity organizations. According to npEngage, millennials will make up 80 percent of the workforce by 2020. They'll be the ones with money in their pockets, meaning nonprofit organizations have a new audience to cater to.

The current trend of millennial donors
According to one donor engagement study, millennials donated the least amount per year with an average of $644.92 going towards 2.93 organizations. However, this generation felt most connected to the organizations that received their donations. In essence, they were passionate about the cause before they started supporting it financially. Other generations, on the other hand, felt that connection more after they contributed, citing the contribution as a way to feel involved.

Communication methods
In the study, the millennial generation was grouped with all the others when it came to evaluating preferred donor communication. Texting and phone calls turned out to be the least favorite mode of communication from nonprofit to donor. Rather, the study demonstrated all age groups preferred Radio and TV ads, direct mail, peer-to-peer fundraising and thank-you notes. Because the study did not say which forms of communications millennials specifically chose, there's no telling how their preferences differ from other generations. However, nonprofits can draw some conclusions based on the younger age group's personality and habits.

The power of sharing
Another npEngage article written by a 25-year-old millennial said that pictures are the key to capturing the attention of his generation. Millennials, easily the most connected of all age groups, have a desire to be engaged. They want to feel included while also roping others into their own experiences. Utilizing pictures for nonprofit marketing strategies allows this generation to tweet, share and tag on every platform of social media. Additionally, pictures create a visual form of a narrative. Stories effectively pull at donors emotions, and that's exactly what the millennial generations wants.

The need to unite
Appealing to the millennials' desire to engage doesn't have to end with sharing photos. Take it from Stanford Social Innovation Review contributor Kathleen Kelly Janus. With six other women in 2004, Janus helped co-found Spark, a nonprofit organization that supports global women's issues. Over the past decade, her nonprofit has consistently received small donations which contributed to a total of over $1.5 million. Spark's success can be partly attributed to the association's efficient strategy for engaging the millennials. All generations possess passion for women's rights, but not every organization has been able tap into each age group.

One way her nonprofit garnered millennial involvement was by providing multiple ways to be engaged with the organization. In order to promote a very specific cause, Spark threw a cocktail party, hosted speakers and consistently updated its social media site. Janus stresses that each time nonprofits are seeking action from this age group, they need to present a wide variety of options. Accept donations online and in person, and make donation opportunities easily accessible.

Change and results
After your organization has effectively captured the help of the millennial generation, you should also highlight the results. How much money did the event raise? Who or what will benefit from the fundraising? Whether you include this information on the thank-you cards or a social media post, don't forget this key ingredient. This generation values knowing that they made a difference, and it will help secure them as continued donors or volunteers.

Though nonprofits usually try to target all age-groups, the millennials can be one of the hardest to engage. However, they will soon be the leading money-makers in our country, so it's important to learn about their unique culture and adapt your marketing strategies to fit it.

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