8 Proven Strategies for Millennial Donor Engagement

The millennial age group is not and should not be the white whale of fundraising.  Reel them in!

Yes, they’re young and grew up with a different sense of the world than perhaps your older donors did, but they’re still just people looking to support a good cause.

To build a strong donor pipeline, it is important to have donors of all ages and giving levels.  One of the biggest challenges facing our nonprofit clients is how to reach the mysterious millennial.

We’ve created a list of strategies that will facilitate engagement with this age group.

Feel free to use any or all of these tactics as you move forward with donor engagement.

ENCOURAGE VOLUNTEERISM

Typically, the younger the donor, the smaller the disposable income.  Millennials, like most people, want to be charitable.

Unfortunately, the combination of a tough job market and hefty student loans limits the ways in which the 20-35 age range can contribute financially.

Luckily, there is an alternative way of participating that is just as viable for your cause, volunteering.

Volunteerism is an excellent way to engage the millennial demographic without them having to worry about a fiscal commitment.

Encouraging volunteering helps connect people to your cause and grow your organization’s community.  Plus, once they are volunteers and ingratiated into your nonprofit, millennials will be more likely to give monetarily when they can.

GO ONLINE

If I want to go to a movie tonight I can go to the theater website and buy tickets in about two minutes.

Yesterday, I made an appointment for a haircut on my salon’s online scheduling system.

The internet makes almost everything more convenient.  Just like online retailers have figured out, it is easier to make a purchase when you can do so without leaving your home.

Make donating online easy.  Your millennial donors are accustomed to using the web for just about everything.  Play on their field.

Raising money online still feels like new territory for many nonprofits, but with the proper approach, such as using a popular crowdfunding platform, your fundraising with younger age groups will soar.

A 2015 NonProfitEasy survey found that only 11.9% of nonprofits surveyed reported that more than 75% of their fundraising will be through online donations.  That 11.9% will only increase as more and more millennials join donor networks.

Stay ahead of the curve!

GET SOCIAL

Social engagement is key!

Many of your donors, especially millennials, have an incredibly active social media presence.

With the amount of time people spend *cough* waste *cough* on social networking sites, it is so important that your organization is part of the community and conversation.

Take a cross-platform approach.  Just a word of warning though, what you get out will be what you put in, so only use a platform if it works for you.

Social media is the ideal resource to brief your donors on all of the great work you’ve done.

It is a perfect place to showcase accomplishments and keep donors in the loop about what their money has enabled.  You can even use the sites to thank donors on a public platform.

The social networking opportunities are there, so take advantage of them!

GO MOBILE

I’d like to wager a bet.  Survey a group of 25 year olds and ask them to name one of their possessions that they could not live without.  Survey says?  Cell phones.

Mobile phones have become appendages.  People sleep with them on their pillows.  They use them to avoid eye contact in elevators.  Smart phones are now basically pocket-sized computers.

Give donors the opportunity to use their best friends for charity.  Make sure your giving platform is compatible with smart phones and break down the barriers to donations!

For example, the data tells us that 15.17% of crowdfunding donations are made via mobile device. That’s a significant percentage of giving potential to miss out on. So, make sure you optimize your site for mobile.

CONTINUE ENGAGEMENT

So you’ve mastered the millennial miracle and you now have a solid base of 20-35 year old donors.  Now what?  Follow-up.  Just like with any donor, once you’ve acquired a millennial make it a goal to retain him and his funds.

You have to stay in touch and there are a bunch of ways to do so.  Donors appreciate emails and shout-outs on social media.

Much of the approach to millennial donor engagement is about getting into their world and going online.  Continuing engagement provides the perfect opportunity to surprise those donors with a throwback fundraising technique, direct mail.

Most people’s true mail is populated with bills, magazines addressed to previous residents, and more bills.  Break-up the monotony with a wonderfully crafted direct mail package.

Your cause will stand out to those younger donors.

BUILD A MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM

If you’re not familiar with membership programs, they are programs that donors can join for a charitable fee and receive perks and other engagement opportunities in return.

Why are membership programs great for donor retention?

Think of it like receiving recurring gifts from your supporters since donors have to pay a monthly or annual fee to become a member. However, the interaction between you and the members is more involved. Your members will get notifications on upcoming events and other engagement opportunities, helping you develop deeper relationships with your supporters. 

If you want to create a membership program, you need the right tools to track your members and renew memberships. Most donor management software has expansions or the capability to track and manage your membership program, so you might not have to get entirely new software.

CREATE A JUNIOR BOARD

Boards are a vital part of a successful nonprofit.  A junior board of directors populated by young professionals will help your organization engage with millennial leaders for your cause.

Much of fundraising is about who you know.  A board that is populated with those ages 50 and up is unlikely to have a bevy of millennial contacts.

Millennials looking and able to donate are certainly out there.  A junior board is a great point of access for connecting with those millennials.  Build it and they will come, right?

HOST EVENTS WITH LOCAL COLLEGES OR UNIVERSITIES

Start ’em young.  College students are the perfect storm of energy, time, and boredom.  If they hear your event is going to be fun or their friends are all going or they are interested in your cause, they will show up.

It doesn’t matter how you get them there, just that you do.

If you encourage involvement early on, they will be more likely to contribute monetarily once they enter the professional world.

A campus or campus-sponsored event is a great way to reach valuable donors and help them discover your cause.

Consider, for example, hosting a 5k on university grounds.  That type of event in particular is going to bring a variety of students to your cause.

  1. You’ll have the students focused on community service who are actively seeking opportunities to volunteer.
  2. You’ll garner support from runners, both students and not, who are simply always looking for a race to run in.
  3. You’ll get the sort of “walk-in” benefit of finding students who maybe were looking for something to do or heard about a free t-shirt.

No matter how many people involved stick with your cause in the short-term, you’ve taken a great step towards building long-term awareness and the foundation of your relationships with young donors.

At the end of the day, millennials are donors like any of your others.  It’s important to view them as donors first, millennials second.  There should be plenty of cross-over between your typical donor acquisition strategies and those you employ for millennials. 

Determining why millennials are interested in your cause and what drives their philanthropic motivations will lead to success.

Any strategies we missed?  Send us an email at nigel@nonprofiteasy.com if you have more proven techniques for attracting millennials.

Want to raise more money from millennials?  Download a free checklist of nonprofit CRM best practices that can improve the efficiency of your fundraisers.

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