Dec 23 2019

How Nonprofits Can Make the Most of the Millennial Wave

Nonprofits can use tech tools and social strategies to reach this enormous, charity-minded generation.

As millennials take over as the largest generation in the workforce, the nonprofit sector is among the many industries feeling the influence. Research shows that 84 percent of millennials give to charitable causes, often spurred in part by their heavy tech use and high levels of social media activity.

Older generations are still giving more total money, due largely to their higher salaries. But millennials currently donate an average of nearly $500 each per year — a number that could increase dramatically as the generation’s workers begin to earn more at the office, pay off student loan debt and inherit an estimated $30 trillion from their parents.

Nonprofits should be taking steps now to actively engage this important demographic. In addition to the steps below, organizations may need to make investments to beef up their IT capabilities, including investments in the cloud.

Cash in on the Mobility and the Crowdfunding Craze

Millennials grew up in the age of viral content, and many are comfortable giving to of-the-moment causes that are creating a buzz. In fact, 46 percent regularly donate to crowdfunding campaigns. By raising money in this way, nonprofits can capture news cycles and engage large numbers of small donors — many of whom may be giving to these organizations for the first time.

Meantime, millennials spend an average of nearly six hours per day on their mobile devices. This is good news for tech-savvy nonprofits — especially smaller organizations that could never hope to fund national television advertising campaigns but can find creative ways to break through the noise and reach people on their smartphones.

Charities can reach potential donors on their mobile devices not only through direct communications about fundraising, but also via mobile apps and content such as inspirational videos. If the organization doesn’t have anyone with app-building experience on board, fear not: mobile application development platforms can turn even a novice into a developer.

Get Millennials Involved in the Cause

Many millennials are interested in more than just giving money. Nonprofit Source found 64 percent of millennials volunteer locally, 9 percent volunteer internationally and 55 percent attend fundraising events.

By engaging with millennials in multiple ways, nonprofits will build deeper connections with them. These connections may or may not yield near-term financial dividends, but they will pay off in the form of a new crop of volunteers — and, potentially, more donations as these volunteers become more financially stable later in life.

MORE FORM BIZTECH: Read about how mobile giving has changed philanthropy. 

Develop a Strong Social Media Presence

Unsurprisingly, 90 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social networking sites. To meet millennials where they are, nonprofits need to make sure their own social media accounts are active, engaging and relevant. It’s not enough to simply cut and paste content from a physical or email newsletter.

Social media content should be clickable and sharable. Don’t have anyone on staff who can craft bite-sized stories out of the organization’s larger message? Consider hiring a millennial for the job.

Offer Younger Generations Multiple Ways to Give

While some millennials will want to cut one large check during the holiday season, many others will prefer to donate via their credit cards, payment apps or even text message. Subscription-style giving options are also extremely important for engaging millennials, with 40 percent of the cohort already enrolled in at least one monthly giving program.

Millennials also have little patience for complex, buggy donation pages on websites. Above all, nonprofits should make sure that the donation process is as simple as possible.

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