Fundraisers Face the Challenge of Wooing Millennial Donors

Millennials, now the nation’s largest generational cohort, are a challenge for many nonprofit marketers–and we know because we work with so many fundraising pros on a wide range of multi-channel appeals. Alas, fundraising campaigns that won over baby boomers don’t necessarily translate into success courting millennials in their 20s and 30s. Yet fundraisers can’t afford to fail with this younger age group. A recent NonProfit PRO interview with Vickie Lobello, fundraising consultant Turnkey’s lead strategist, offered data points that explain why:

Millennials Are Valuable Volunteers & Donors

Lobello cites research, from Salesforce to Millennial Impact reports, verifying that millennials want to make a difference and so form a great pool of prospective volunteers. For example, 88% of millennial females and 82% of millennial males say that it’s important to be engaged in work that gives back to the community. A Pew Research Center survey found that 57% of millennials reported volunteering in the last 12 months, compared with 52% of boomers. Even more important for marketers, millennials are a growing donor force. Lobello points out that 52% of millennials say they donated to a cause affiliated with a social issue in the past month. Plus, millennials are more likely to increase their giving year-over-year compared with other age groups!

Millennials Spearhead Social Engagement

Lobello underscores that millennials offer potent social media leverage. Research shows 61% of millennials post about issues they care about anywhere from one to 11 times a week on social media! Harnessing those influencers is a powerful tool to increase fundraising reach. Millennials’ heavy social media use, with demands for both personal engagement and digital ease and speed, is also an indication of how millennials are motivated in different ways from their parents. Messaging, creative and preferred giving channels need to reflect that reality. Randy Hawthorne, executive director of Nonprofit Hub, recently drew on his experience to outline five changes in fundraising tactics to successfully win millennials.

Crafting Appeals to Woo Millennials

Hawthorne’s first bit of advice is to embrace flexibility and meet millennials on their own terms when it comes to volunteering and donating (he cites a successful head-shaving fundraiser as an example that a rigid boomer bias would skip). Second, since millennials spend so much time connected to social media, tap that power by promoting the cause (not the organization) on social platforms with engaging stories, share-worthy images and evidence of charitable impact. Third, recognize that millennials seek relationships, so a cold ask for dollars may be a turn-off.  Offer ways for millennials to engage more deeply with a cause, such as volunteering–knowing volunteers are likely to become loyal donors. Fourth, cater to millennials’ impulsive use of technology by offering easy online and mobile donation options. Finally, commit to maintaining millennial engagement via frequent, meaningful communication, not just an annual report. Thank them, inform them, show them the impact of their charity, and consistently re-engage them. It will pay off! Read the full Nonprofit Hub post for more detail.