The Millennial generation is one of the most socially conscious, global-minded generations, and you would think that mindset would lend itself naturally to active, consistent nonprofit donors. But, not so much. It’s not that Millennials can’t be great consistent donors—the potential and the financial resources are certainly there (600 billion in annual spending power, surpassing all other generations). The key is speaking their language. Specifically: connect and engage.
Every generation is different, and we marketers must adjust our strategies accordingly. Millennials are not like their predecessors, signing up dutifully to give regular donations throughout the year after being inspired by a compelling direct mail campaign. This worked for previous generations who didn’t grow up online—these folks weren’t used to constant communication, or the ability to instantly research an organization without taking a special trip to the library (and even then, comprehensive information may not have been available, depending on the organization). For a long time, what Boomers and Gen X received in the mail was their main source of information from a nonprofit.
That has not been the case for Millennials. This group may feel initially inspired by a one touch communication, but they will respond in one donation manner. That’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with being spontaneously or impulsively generous. But to keep them giving over time, your organization needs to do more—Millennials need to be engaged, regularly, in order to turn them into loyal donors.
Thanks to the Internet, Millennials are used to being connected online to the people (celebrities, musicians, sports players) and groups they find important. They receive and digest daily updates from these individuals/groups, and they feel like part of a larger community even though they probably have not met anyone from the community in real life.
Millennials will expect the same type of relationship with your nonprofit. They’ll look for updates on what you’re accomplishing (especially with their specific donation) and how you’re changing the world. Social media is the perfect way to provide these updates on a regular basis, because Millennials live online.
Sharing your successes through pictures and stories allows Millennials to connect to you emotionally, and you to connect to them. Plus, when a Millennial becomes a loyal fan of your cause, they are likely to become a social ambassador for you. They will share your stories and updates to their thousands of friends, spreading your organization’s passion with a world of others.
Another way to get Millennials engaged is to skip the money donation pitch and invite them to donate their time as a volunteer. This is an extremely effective way to turn a Millennial into a consistent donor because it exposes them to what your organization does.
There is no better way to emotionally connect to a cause than to work the cause, and the Millennial audience needs that emotional connection to fully engage with what your organization does. What the Millennial experiences IRL (in real life, LOL) is even more influential than what they experience in cyberworld.
Millennials are also very social (not just online) and will probably invite friends to volunteer along with them. In fact, if it works for your organization, you may want to consider fundraising events and volunteering opportunities targeted specifically at Millennials to build their loyalty over time.
Millennials need more attention than an annual report and a holiday card in the mail. To sustain their interest in your organization and their passion for your cause, simply stay in touch with this audience. Yes, this generation requires more maintenance and more work than previous generations! But it’s worth it. There are tons of ways to communicate now—Millennials love direct mail, they live online, they still check their email—take advantage of these easily accessible channels! The most important thing to remember is that Millennials are looking for transparent information. They want to know how their donation helped and how your organization is helping change the world with concrete examples.
Millennials are the donors of today and tomorrow; eventually they will head up many nonprofit organizations themselves. They are a passionate group of individuals who care about what’s going on in the world. Taking the time to market to them on their terms can be extremely fruitful for your organization going forward.
Just keep in mind that Millennials need more—they demand more—of your time and attention than the generations prior to them.