Depending on the structure of your revenue streams, your organization may or may not raise significant funds from individual donors, but the fact remains that the majority of philanthropic support for nonprofits comes from individuals. It is worthwhile for every organization to make the effort to get their piece of that pie.
Not surprisingly, demographic shifts play a big role in how individual donors are giving. According to a recent study by Cygnus Applied Research, 46 percent of donors under 35 said they plan to increase their gifts to charity this year, compared to 30 percent of donors aged 35 to 64 and 21 percent of donors 65 and older. As people who are accustomed to traditional direct marketing via mail are aging, and Millennials become a growing force in individual giving, there are critical factors that will affect your organization’s ability to raise funds. But, before we get to that, let’s examine some of the trends and statistics on the growing “Millennial Moment” in fundraising.
According to the Millennial Impact Project, which is the most comprehensive and trusted study on Millennial (age 20-30) involvement with causes, Millennials:
- engage with causes to help other people, not institutions.
- support issues rather than organizations.
- prefer to perform smaller actions before fully committing to a cause.
- are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers.
- treat all their assets (time, money, network, etc.) as having equal value.
- need to experience an organization’s work without having to be on site.
Millennials have very specific preferences for how to engage them around giving:
- They prefer to get information from websites and social media
- They want to know how their gift is going to make a difference and also to be told what impact it had after they give
- Their preferred method of donating is first online, second in person, and third by mail
- 42% gave to what inspired them in the moment
So based on these preferences, here are 5 tips for engaging Millennial donors:
- Be a part of something bigger — Millennials care about causes and helping people, not specific “brands” or organizations, so make it clear how your mission connects to the big and relevant issues of the day and be clear about your impact — how have you made life better for people?
- Go social and mobile — more than likely, Millennials will connect with your organization via social media or your website and they will likely do it on a mobile device. Refer back to my previous post on social media for more about how to build that strategy. But also make sure your website reads well on mobile devices. This is a critical step for engaging Millennials.
- Make online donations easy — Your donate button should be prominent on your home page and also linked to your social media pages. Once donors get to the page, make the form short and sweet. And for goodness sake, do not make users click through to multiple pages. There’s a lot of good information on optimizing your donate page on the Network for Good website if you want more guidance on this.
- Make your appeals timely — Unlike other types of donors, Millennials are inspired in the moment, so take advantage of the latest news to promote your organization’s impact with this audience. This means you won’t always be able to plan ahead, but you can spend time once a day or once a week thinking about how current events relate to your issues and pounce on the opportunities when they arise.
- Thank them and keep them informed — This is something you are probably doing with every donor, and don’t forget about it with Millennials. They want to know that they’ve made a difference, even if they only made a $5 gift. It’s worth the time and effort because these are your organization’s future major donors. The more effort you put in to making them a part of your work now, the more they will be likely to give in the future.
Most of all, remember that Millennials matter. They are influencing all aspects of our economy and they want to be engaged with causes in everything they do. Seize the opportunity of the Millennial Moment!