Millennials are a generous generation, with about 80% giving to charity according to the Blackbaud Generational Giving Report. But how do you get millennials to donate to Your cause? What has worked to appeal to their parents and grandparents will not necessarily work for millennial however, and nonprofits need to rethink their fundraising strategies accordingly to get in the game and start taking a share of their donation market.
Following are 7 ways your nonprofit can appeal to younger generations for donations more effectively.
1. Send short, frequent online communications
Millennials do not want to read more than 150 words. And they want frequent communication. They might not look at all your emails, but they will probably glance at your Facebook post, see your Tweet, or notice your Instagram. They spend 18 hours connected to their phones and at least two hours scrolling through their social media, according to 2015 TheMillenialImpact.com surveys.
Send short, frequent communications on as many online channels (particularly mobile friendly channels) to tell your story. Use pictures and videos whenever you can.
A specific fundraising idea that uses this strategy is to evolve your “direct mail” or direct email campaign into a short, story-oriented campaign on social media. Break your message into parts and send brief snippets more frequently.
You could put together 5 testimonials for instance, and post a picture and a quote from the program recipient you have served demonstrating your impact on your Facebook daily or every other day for a week. A youth leadership program could quote different participants with an action shot of their work volunteering in the community. Or a local SPCA center could post a different animal daily for five days, with before and after shots of their rescue or adoption.
The key is to use creative, image-oriented, and engaging messages that are short, impactful, and frequent.
2. Show millennials measurable impact from your charity
Younger generations want to give to organizations that are effective, that can show the most impact for each donation. You can mix this technique into your appeal strategy in the following concrete ways:
- Break your fundraising goals or budget line items into tangible small appeals, and calculate exactly what the impacts of specific donations are. A women’s shelter, for instance, could break out their utilities bill, divide it by the number of people that use their home in a year, and make a claim: “Your $25 donation lights nights, cooks meals, and heats bedrooms for 6 women and children annually.”
- Compare your nonprofit directly to another nonprofit doing the same work as you but less efficiently. In this case it can help to set yourself apart from the big guys. “We use 95% of our donations for program whereas the big national nonprofit only uses 87%.”
- Use infographics or videos instead of words. Click here for a list of infographic tools, or use Canva’s drag and drop tool, or click here for a list of inexpensive or free video tools.)
3. In order to get donations from millennials, link your work to broader causes in your appeals – but keep it local
When we look at the numbers, millennials have a conflicting ideology – they like to give to local causes, but they like work that is connected to broader causes. They are the epitome of “think global, act local.” They like the idea that they can plant a tree in their local park and it has a measurable impact on global climate change, for instance.
When crafting your case statements, keep this thought in mind. Connect the need for your work to both the global and the local – how your program in one local elementary school impacts individual children’s lives but also a national or international issue like the achievement gap in general.
4. Take advantage of peer pressure when appealing to millennials
Millennials are extremely susceptible to peer pressure, especially via social media. Take advantage of this phenomenon in your appeals by promoting sharing and liking and open feedback.
That feedback can be a blog post, a “like”, a “retweet” or any number of options, but this generation likes to communicate back and is accustomed to believing their opinions not just matter, but are important to you and the direction of your work. It makes them feel like they are a part of a dialogue, and it genuinely inspires their network to give to your cause as well, even if they never cared about your cause before. The peer influence itself can be the marketing strategy for your appeal.
ALS, for instance, increased their giving 4000% to more than $100 million in 2014 with a famous Facebook campaign that relied on peer pressure – the Ice Bucket Challenge where celebrities plunged their heads in buckets of ice water to stimulate giving.
5. Make your fundraising campaigns fun and entertaining
ALS not only used peer pressure in the Ice Bucket Challenge, but also creativity and entertainment. Of course people want to see Justin Bieber dunk his head in ice. Giving had nothing to do with the cause, but was pure entertainment to engage giving.
Encourage your nonprofit to think outside the box and come up with some interesting, fun stunts to raise awareness! Examples are sleeping on the street for 24 hours to show how difficult being homeless is, or eating only what food insecure children have available to them for a week and measuring weight loss in participants.
6. Involve younger generations in fundraising for you or volunteering
Millennials want to be part of your work – so it might help to forget your fundraising goal and set up volunteer opportunities instead. Seventy two percent of this younger generation volunteered in 2019. (See TheMillenialImpact.com.)
At a minimum, always give them the opportunity to volunteer in your appeals and your communications. Don’t just ask for money, but invite them to email their senator for new legislation that relates to you. Ask them to take action and petition their neighbors to stop using pesticides.
Small, local volunteer options that again, connect to a broader cause and the greater good can encourage this generation to give to you in both the short and the long term.
7. Forget your timeline – give younger generations options to give anytime
Blackbaud determined that 68% of Millennials gave through their mobile phone in 2019.
Furthermore, they do so impulsively. They don’t care about your annual appeal timeline. They want to give easily, with a click of their smartphone, when they want to. This means that you need to give them multiple channels to give (on your website, via PayPal and Google Wallet, using Facebook giving applications, etc.) and frequently ask them! You should always provide a “give now” link on communication whether or not the communication is a structured appeal or not.
The face of America is changing, and nonprofits need to evolve their fundraising strategies to stay in the game and keep themselves sustainable! Luckily, the trends are that new technologies and more flexible mindsets are making it easier to attract gifts and to fundraise from a wide base of supporters. Just make sure you keep evolving with them!