5 Tips to Engaging Millennials as Donors and Volunteers

Nonprofit organizations are always looking for more donors and volunteers. Right now many organizations are focused on connecting with millennials. Millennials or Generation Y were born between 1981-1995 and are known to be independent, entrepreneurial, inclusive, and spontaneous. They are also known to be generous, passionate, and civil-minded.

Every generation is unique in their values and trends. The following 5 tips will help your organization engage millennials based on their unique characteristics.

  • Host several social, low-barrier activities to expose millennials to your nonprofit. It is even better if you can add an educational component. For example, if you operate an animal shelter, host a workshop on basic pet care and promote it as a young adult event. Avoid a formal presentation about your organization and instead share a brief overview of your mission and services.
  • Stay connected after the initial contact or introduction. Invite millennials to a variety of events and communicate with them often. One letter per year for the Annual Campaign will not spark their interest. You may want to ask them how they would like to receive information about your organization- Eblasts? Social media? Text? They probably will not say mail so then you can save the stamps.
  • Explain the “why” in all messaging and correspondence. Explain why your organization is special, why the mission is important, and why young people can be so influential in the cause. Millennials are very curious and care deeply about making an impact. They are used to having infinite information and distractions at their fingertips. Be very clear and precise about how their direct support will help. You may only have one chance to grab their attention.
  • Offer millennials a variety of opportunities to give. Once they’re engaged on a social level and informed about your services, then you can concentrate on cultivating them as donors. They do not give to annual campaigns the same as other generations. They will donate but donations are more impulsive, project-based, and spread over multiple organizations. Make sure your online giving options are quick and easy. Also, have a wish list handy of your organization’s needs per program. These needs do not have to be tangible but be prepared to explain how that intangible or unrestricted gifts will support your mission. You may also want to consider trying donation apps, crowdfunding, or giving circles.
  • Build relationships with local businesses who employee millennials. Ask them to coordinate a group volunteer project or offer Volunteer Paid Time Off if the time is spent with your organization. Again, this is the beginning of the engagement and will give you an opportunity to showcase the value of your nonprofit through future contacts. You may want to ask a millennial who is already engaged with your organization to Champion this recommendation at their office. It will provide a new corporate connection for your nonprofit and other millennials will be inspired by seeing their peer in a leadership role.

To create a fundraising or engagement program tailored to your organization, please contact Ivy Schneider, President of Helix Strategies, LLC at ivy@helixllc.org and check out www.helixllc.org for information about raising funds and developing your boards and leaders.