Why Millennials Matter

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Since 2009, the annual Millennial Impact Report has consistently conveyed that the millennial generation (born after 1980) is “eager to connect, get involved, and give to causes they’re passionate about.”

But sometimes they seem so young and hip and tech savvy that we are flummoxed by how to connect. Those floral prints, those thick-rimmed glasses, those nimbly moving fingers! How might we approach them?

Start by reading the latest 2014 Millennial Impact Report, one of the most insightful documents to come along for nonprofits in many moons. It’s chock full of specific tips and keen recommendations, and sets clear guideposts for where nonprofits should be heading if they hope to engage the younger generations.

Why?

It's important to start engaging millennials. Your older loyal donors won’t be around forever. Millennials will be around for quite awhile and they can help spread the word, generate enthusiasm for your cause, volunteer their time, and support you through monthly giving.

And they genuinely want to get involved in the causes they care about.

Millennial Report Findings

We encourage every organization to read the full 2013 Millennial Impact Report to understand why young people might ‘like’ your organization, donate, or sign up for your email list. Read the 2014 Millennial Impact Report to gain insight into what inspires millennials in the workplace (perhaps your nonprofit).

Report Highlights

  1. Millennials prefer to connect through technology – social media and email are key. 83% of millennials have smartphones.
  2. They facilitate and rely on peer influence – peer involvement is a motivator to attend events, volunteer, take advocacy action, and give.
  3. Millennials volunteer along a continuum and need a variety of opportunities to get more and more involved and build loyalty
  4. Millennials give to charities. And they give to have an impact – they really want to see tangible results of their giving.
    • 87% of millennial survey respondents donated to an organization in the last year
    • only 18% gave less than $50
    • 28% gave between $100 and $500

Top Takeaways

Millennials first support causes they’re passionate about, rather than ponying up to institutions. This means it’s up to you to inspire them, vivify your work, and show them that their support can make a concrete impact.

A few more tips based on the 2013 report findings:

  1. Inspire your millennial followers based on their top motivators for getting involved: Passion (79%); meeting people (56%); gaining expertise (46%) 
  2. Be completely transparent – it inspires trust
  3. Get them involved through activism, professional groups, and leadership opportunities
  4. Build a strong and engaging social media presence
  5. Inspire millennials to give by using photos, testimonies, video, and impact reports
  6. Encourage peer-to-peer engagement and fundraising
  7. Make monthly giving easy
  8. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

More Great Tidbits

2013's Millennial Conference, MCon13, hosted a panel of social media experts and offered some great tips on how to engage millennials through the most popular social platforms.

In a nutshell? It all comes down to building relationships.

Twitter  

According to Twitter’s Jenna Golden, 1 billion tweets are shared every 2.5 days. And 42% of Twitter’s US online users are between the ages of 18-34 years (i.e. millennials).

"Very Important Tweeters"—people with massive networks—are excellent for getting millennials to become engaged in nonprofit causes. For example, actress Jessica Biel tweeted #WorldWaterDay on her birthday and succeeded in getting thousands of millennials to join her cause.

YouTube

YouTube attracts 1 billion unique users every month. More 18-34 year olds are on YouTube than any other cable network. And YouTube’s millennials watch 6 billion hours of video each month!

So get creative, and get your videos up on YouTube. Here are a few great examples of how cause-related videos can get powerful results:

In her “Don’t Cover It Up” campaign, actress Lauren Luke highlighted the seriousness of domestic violence through a tutorial on how to cover up facial bruising with makeup. It raised awareness (especially for millennial women) on the pervasiveness of intimate partner violence in our country and highlighted society's tendency to cover-up this devastating problem through its ironic casual/normalizing tone.

In Australia, Melbourne’s Metro Company created a train safety video with a dark humored-edge called  “Dumb Ways to Die.” The video captured 5 million views within the first few days of its posting, and $50 million in advertisement-value within the first few months of its posting.

So that is the quick and dirty of millennial engagement. All these tips will not only help sharpen appeal to millennials, it will make your organization more attractive to every age group.

There’s no need to be intimidated. Meet millennials where they’re at and launch right in. The future of your organization may depend on it.

Gail Guengerich also contributed to this article.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Millennial 2020