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Millennials Are Changing Fundraising; Is Your Organization Ready?

Millennials are today’s largest workforce in the U.S. and it's definitely time for organizations to start thinking about developing a long-term engagement plan that targets this generation. That includes replacing the traditional ways of doing things at the nonprofit with agile and innovative techniques to achieve success. If you still think of Millennials as an emerging generation of young people, your perception is unfortunately outdated. In reality, this generation is already well-into adulthood and actually holds a large portion of the cultural, political, and economic capital that your movement can benefit from greatly.

Based on an article by PND, the most socially-conscious generation in history, Millennials, are in line to inherit around $41 trillion (yup - TRILLION) in wealth from their parents and grandparents and... they’re more than happy to give it while they live. In fact, younger donors are proven to be just as generous, if not more, than any of their predecessors with 74% of them identifying as philanthropists.

With all that being said, Millennials are eager to engage with causes they care about and the challenge is for organizations to recreate their systems and structures to fit this generation’s values and behaviors, inspiring them to become a part of mission making. So, how do you do that?

First, Is Your Organization Ready?

The first step is for you to ask yourself if your organization is ready to take on this challenge. To start, how can you engage a generation you don’t know all the facts about? For instance, do you really understand how Millennials think and what pushes them to donate? Research is key here; however, some obvious things to consider first would be to familiarize yourself with the technology and cultural environment that Millennials grew up with. Another idea would be to switch your priorities from ticket sales at traditional events to building relationship-based engagement in places Millennials are already engaged. Trust is key and meeting Millennials where they are at, learning more and listening is the best way to start.

After conducting some thorough research, your next move should be to create a plan on how to engage them. Have you thought about how you are going to show them exactly how their money is creating an impact or making a difference? What about the various mechanisms you’re going to use to get these individuals involved? You need to be bringing new strategies to the table as well as creating a sense of belonging, instilling some healthy urgency, and ensuring diversity and inclusion practices are in place to really get them involved.

And finally, you need to reassess whether you’re biased against younger people. Your biggest obstacle might just end up being your own prejudice towards Millennials. Do not underestimate the value of youth intellect, wisdom, and power (although Millennials are between 25-40 now!). And most importantly, make sure that everyone at the organization is on board with working with this generation, or else, your collective efforts might simply go to waste.


Recommended Strategies to Start Connecting with Millennials

1. Build a Deep Relationship with Them that Goes Beyond Donations and Money

According to Keela, donor stewardship has never been more crucial than it is today. With Millennials, building a relationship with them will give you much more than just money. If they truly care about your mission, this generation will make sure to share your cause and volunteer to help your fundraising and fieldwork. This is why you need their trust and to incorporate a general approach that “resonates with them”.

2. Use Easily Accessible Channels that Millennials Are Familiar With

If you want to engage with this generation, you need to be on social media and use it to boost your Millennial reach. Millennials spend an incredible amount of time on their phones (60% of their day- in fact!) and on know platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. That’s why it is your responsibility to share and get exposure for your organization on social media if you want Millennials to actually receive the information that your nonprofit is trying to communicate. They will not necessarily come to you, so you need to go to them.

3. Show Your Nonprofit’s Mission and Impact Through Storytelling

According to Forbes, telling stories can really increase your chances of getting millennials engaged. This is a generation that receives millions of messages on a weekly basis and it takes a bit more than just sending a message to get them to support your cause. What is your nonprofit’s story and why should they contribute to your mission and not others’? Personalize what you’re saying by showing them real people and real impact.

4. Keep Things as Clear, Easy, and Tangible as Possible

One thing Millennials definitely don’t have is a lot of patience. If you want to keep them engaged, skip the long and overcomplicated messages by always sticking to the main points. The details do not really matter in the beginning and might get in the way of a strong message making it through to engage them. Just clearly state what it is that your organization is trying to do urgently and keep the donation process as simple as possible. If they sign up, you'll have time to share more information about your work as you go along.

5. Keep It Fun!

Many nonprofits have been coming up with creative ways to engage Millennials and it’s working beautifully. An example by Keela showed that some organizations have partnered up with a video game streamer for fundraising purposes, even organizing competitions and building a full audience. Other options to try out include peer-to-peer fundraising online, running a hashtag campaign on Tiktok, creating challenges, t-shirt fundraising, and truly much more.


Did you know that we offer a course specifically on how to engage millennials to raise big money? And we wrote a case study about a successful Young Professionals group we helped one nonprofit raise over $20,000 by designing? Book your spot now via the link and check out the case study here,


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