The 2013 Millennial Impact Report details the ways 18-30 year olds, known as the Millennial generation, approach social change and the nonprofit landscape. The study surveyed young people over the past three years with a total of 11,675 participants. This generation has been regarded by many as entitled, lazy and selfish. However, the reports states that “73% of Millennials volunteered for a nonprofit in 2012. Their motivations: More than three quarters were passionate about the cause or issue, while 67% felt they could make an impact for a cause they cared about.” This is good news for nonprofits who want to encourage activism to the youth, but what are the best ways to make your nonprofit engage with millennials? The report breaks this down into three key points: Connect, Involve & Give.
Millennials are constantly using social media and new technology to connect with each other, and your nonprofit must understand not only how the youth Connect but also why. “Millennials prefer to share information about the cause, not the organization itself.” This means that rather than boosting your brand and trying to drive traffic to a central source (your organization), you should join the larger conversation of the cause your trying to help. Organizations should connect with likeminded organizations via social media and participate in hashtags and trends to inform users about their stance on activism. The central tenant of social media is spreadability over stickiness, that is to create shareable content that promotes conversation rather than direct messages that only points users to your page. The study also urges organizations to think mobile. “Organizations should think “mobile first” and focus on responsive design as well as content, including navigation, context around the organization’s work, and success stories.” Hone your messaging by asking yourself these questions when crafting a post:
• How can you educate the Millennial audience about the broader cause?
• How does your organization uniquely contribute to that greater issue?
• How can your programs and design entice your audience to read more?
Think in terms of people thumbing through their phones. When using Facebook, it is better to accompany a statement with an image as it takes up more screen real-estate when users are scrolling in their news feed. Your goal is to develop inherently sharable content.
The next point is to Involve. Millennials are interest in nonprofits because they want to “support a cause, help other people, and become part of a community that’s equally excited and eager to make a difference.” Just like millennial’s use of social media, engagement is about building a boundless community based on a specific conversation. Next to working for a cause that they are passionate about, the second chief motivation for millennials to volunteer is “meeting new people who care about the same cause or issue.” Therefore, your nonprofit should develop ways to introducing young people who share the same activist spirit. Plan local events that engage activism or promote gathering or rallies that relate to your mission. Of the surveyed individuals, the biggest annoyance towards nonprofit work was “not having much to do while volunteering and having their time wasted (69%), plus not knowing exactly what they’ll be doing when they volunteer (60%).” Make sure your events are clearly detailed online, so that your organization does not have to waste useful time training or instruction participants as “47% deplored having to ‘attend long training sessions in person for things that could be explained virtually.'” Also, Millennials would rather be promised future engagement with a cause rather than prizes for their work. Keep in mind that “Millennials do not necessarily need ‘stuff’ as incentives; they prefer professional development opportunities and networking more than t-shirts and swag.”
Lastly, the report urges organizations to know how Millennials Give. The good news is that the Millennial generation is passionate about contributing what they can monetarily to causes they truly believe in (“close to 83% of respondents made a financial gift to an organization in 2012”). Yet, with the financial landscape as it is today, it will take some time until the youth has the capital to give large gifts. However, it is important to provide the donation option that Millennials prefer: via the web. An overwhelming majority of surveyed individuals (84%) “gave or wants to give via website, while giving in person came in a distant second at 48%.” Consider embedding a payment gateway on your site and make sure to signup for a Paypal account for your nonprofit. Although the fact remains that Millennials are not able to give large amounts yet, “52% of respondents said they’d be interested in monthly giving,” so nonprofits should provide a billing plan option. All in all, your online presence should exude a transparent and trustworthy organization to invite young donors.
We hope you read though this report and find ways to bring younger eyes to your cause. In the end, you want Millennial engagement to be ingrained of your organization’s culture.