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#GivingTuesday: How to Engage Millennial Supporters

If there’s a time your nonprofit needs to foster a culture of excited giving, it’s during the year-end giving season. Giving Tuesday is the single largest fundraising day for nonprofits around the world. Just last year, a record-breaking $2.7 billion was raised in the U.S. on that day alone.

Meanwhile, millennial givers have become the most active generation in charitable giving in recent years. If your nonprofit can engage with this demographic, not only will you have a successful Giving Tuesday—you might even gain those supporters for life.

However, reaching these supporters can be tough, so we’ve pulled together five strategies for boosting millennial engagement:

Follow along for a deeper look at each strategy.

Understand Who the Millennial Supporter Is

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1995, are the generation that falls between Gen X and the “Digital Natives,” or Gen Z. 

This demographic continues to grow, now surpassing the baby boomers in size and representing 11% of total giving in the U.S. As the millennial impact increases, nonprofits have become increasingly aware of the need to engage these givers. However, that’s easier said than done.

For example, though millennials are eager to connect with nonprofits online, they’re increasingly skeptical of solicitation communications and likely to simply block them out after being bombarded with advertising content on every outlet, every day. Further, millennials are giving more than any other demographic, they’re doing so through methods prior generations did not.

Because of this, your organization needs to develop a strategy for engaging—and retaining—your millennial supporters specifically. And, if you feel overwhelmed with the process, consider help to guide your strategy.

Employ Mobile-Responsive, Up-to-Date Outreach

We know two facts about millennial outreach: they prefer to be regularly contacted by nonprofits, and they respond well to being contacted through digital means. 

There are a few digital methods of communication proven effective with millennials. First and foremost, email is the preferred method of communication for the generation. As the majority of emails are read via a mobile device, it’s imperative these communications are optimized for both desktop and mobile consumption.

After email, consider your nonprofit’s website. This tool is vital for communicating information about your organization and cause, and also needs to be optimized for mobile use. Further, because your website is often the first interaction a supporter has with your organization, it’s especially vital this tool is regularly updated.

If you’re just beginning the web development process, or simply need to update your current website, check out this guide with tips for nonprofit web development from Morweb.

Be Authentic in All Communications

Millennials are leading the “cutting the cord” initiative and disconnecting from traditional cable companies in favor of streaming services. This generation prefers simpler, more direct solutions that don’t feel like they’re being taken advantage of as consumers (as they may be with bloated cable bundles!), and this applies to their communication preferences, too. 

Avoid generic fundraising communications and opt for authentic and personalized outreach methods. The goal is to show your millennial supporters, as frequently as possible, that there are real people behind your fundraising and the work of your organization.

For this digitally-interconnected generation, this could be as simple as putting a face to your organization’s work on social media channels or even engaging givers in a two-way conversation with questions and comments.

You can take one step further by adopting a “friend-raising” mentality, in which you intentionally build meaningful connections with supporters. These engaged supporters then spread the word to their friends and the cycle continues. Because we know millennial givers are heavily influenced by their peers’ charitable giving, this is a great strategy to reach that demographic.

For more tips on how to successfully market your fundraising during the holiday season, check out this guide to year-end giving by Qgiv.

Illustrate the Significance of Every Gift

A Gallup study reported millennials having slightly different motivations than the generations before them. For example, this generation tends to be more socially conscious and purpose-driven than generations prior, who were more often driven solely by paycheck.

Millennials want to make a difference, to have a clear impact, in their workplace. It follows, then, that they would approach charitable giving in a similar manner!

Make sure your gift ask reflects the impact each supporter will have on your organization’s work. There are two easy ways you can communicate this:

  • In your mission statement: The ability to clearly articulate your organization’s purpose, and how you plan to fulfill that purpose, will attract millennial supporters who want to make a difference.
  • With your gift range chart: Your gift range chart displays how many of each gift amount your organization needs to raise. However, you can also modify this chart for giver use, by showing them the effect of their personal gift in the scope of your entire fundraiser (ex: “Giving X amount will fund X amount of supplies for our cause”).

Perfect both of these tools during the planning phase of your year-end giving push and you’ll be armed with all the information you need to show supporters the effect they can have.

Focus on Millennial Retention Beyond the Holiday Season

Millennials are particularly responsive to scheduled philanthropy, with 40% of all supporters in this demographic participating in a monthly giving program. This is a huge opportunity for nonprofits, and if you’re only focusing on one-time gifts during your year-end initiative, you might be missing out.

Just as you plan years in advance during your organization's strategic planning, you should look to the future when soliciting gifts at the end of the year. 

Ask supporters to consider automating their giving, emphasizing how this carries the impact of their gift throughout the year by helping you reach your annual fund goals

There is power in the millennial generation, both in its sheer size and the penchant for charitable giving the demographic holds. It’s important your nonprofit creates a solicitation strategy specifically tailored to this demographic, ensuring strong relationships for life. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the task of engaging millennial givers, consider bringing on a fundraising consultant to help. To begin your search, check out a list of the top fundraising consultants. You’ll be growing stronger relationships with this key demographic in no time!

This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

About the Author

Bob Happy brings nearly 35 years of experience providing expert leadership and direction to clients across the not-for-profit sector to his current role as President of Averill Solutions. Before forming Averill Solutions, Bob served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the nation’s largest fundraising firm. He has mentored hundreds of professional fundraising practitioners and many have joined him at Averill Fundraising Solutions.

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