Updated: Jul 10, 2020
As the largest generation in the US, millennials are steadily increasing their influence across American society. As businesses and nonprofits adapt, it is important to gain an understanding of this vital demographic.
Reports such as the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 indicate that millennials are passionate about supporting causes that work towards providing a better, more sustainable future for everyone. Not only are they eager to participate in movements and causes, but are persuading businesses and governments to align with their societal and environmental commitments.
Millennials have shown increasing loyalty towards their employers, indicating that their priorities are driving change in business and creating more effective, value-aligned employer-employee relationships. The recent hardships caused by COVID have also revealed that a majority of millennials have enough savings to help weather the effects of economic challenges. All this translates into the momentum millennials are building for financial growth and societal change.
Nonprofits wishing to increase engagement with this demographic should be encouraged. A Fidelity Charitable survey found that 93% of millennial entrepreneurs volunteer for causes and donate more than twice as much as Gen X and Baby Boomers. As a whole, 51% of millennials engage in giving, which accounts for $20.1 billion a year. As the most tech-savvy generation so far, it’s no surprise that millennials most often use websites and social media to donate.
Given the research done so far, there are several takeaways for increasing millennial engagement with nonprofits:
1. Optimize your website and use technology to make giving easier The majority of millennial giving happens on websites. Make sure yours is up to speed. Mobile giving and crowdfunding are also on the rise. Consider adopting mobile apps and digital tools to make giving easier.
2. Provide opportunities for community activism and social impact engagement As recent events have shown, the spirit of social activism is alive and well. The work of nonprofits is more important than ever but the need to remain adaptable is crucial. Social distancing does not preclude social impact. Take more of your advocacy and campaigning online with virtual fundraising events, online forums, webinars, and the like.
3. Cultivate a strong online presence and engage with millennials on their terms 79% of millennials use social media every day. Social media is easy to use, fun, and largely free (although paid advertising can significantly raise visibility). Facebook and YouTube are millennial favorites while Instagram is a close third. The new upcoming social media platform for donors, NEDDIE, is another free platform that will be making strides. Craft your online voice with a few posts, stories, and clips to get the conversation going.
4. Encourage user-generated content Millennials are not a passive bunch. They enjoy engaging and participating. Get to know your donors and volunteers. Ask them why your cause matters to them and share their testimonials with your online audience. Sponsor contests for the best photos and clips related to your cause. When they make donations, send them a gift and ask them to post selfies with your branded t-shirts, mugs, and hats.
5. Partner with businesses to create even greater outcomes for your cause An increasing number of businesses are adopting social and environmental responsibility plans, in part due to millennials support of such plans. This translates into greater opportunities for nonprofits to collaborate with businesses. Such partnerships provide access to more resources, expertise, and brand awareness, resulting in greater impact and visibility.
Challenging times often provide the inspiration for creative new solutions. Using hard-won perspectives, nonprofits must adopt new goals and methods of achieving sustainability far into the future. Building relationships with millennials on the social impact issues of the day is crucial as they mature into the most important demographic for nonprofits.