Getting Millennials to “Buck Up” for Nonprofits

Hi, I’m Julia. (Just in case you didn’t already meet the virtual me in a more formal introduction here.) This is my inaugural blog post for BC/DC Ideas, so I wanted to write about something that’s been on my mind recently.

I’ve been thinking a lot about nonprofits and giving lately since I’ve taken this internship position. Shocker, right? I have also found myself listening more intently to my peer’s conversations about these topics.

Last week when we were talking about social responsibility my friend commented, “Yeah, my anthropology class is really depressing because it is making me realize that just about anything you buy or do has a negative impact.” She paused before continuing, “But, I just don’t have the time to think about those kinds of things right now.”

With this type of attitude holding prominence among America’s 20-somethings, how can nonprofits motivate them to action? Rather, how can nonprofits appeal to my generation?

We all witnessed the impact of the KONY 2012 video reminding us that utilizing creative approaches in non-traditional media can foster a wave of people who rally-around-the-cause. With close to 84 million views, I’d say the video spread like wildfire. When it comes to garnering real support dollars from this audience, however, it’s easier said than done.

Research and even campaigns like KONY 2012 have showed us that Generation Y, or “the Millennial generation” that ranges from ages 18-30, is fond of the socially responsible lifestyle, and they’re eager to share.

In fact according to The Millennial Donors Report 2011, 71.7% of Millennial donors said they’d be willing to communicate with friends and family about ways to be involved in an organization they support. Reflecting upon my friends and their involvement with their favorite organizations, this percentage makes sense because people often speak highly about the community groups with which they volunteer. But, maintaining a good reputation will not fund the nonprofit efforts.

So, how do you transform those millennial social supporters into a dollar donors based on findings from The Millennial Donors Report 2011?

  1. Get in their face.  
    • Don’t be abrasive, but take the time to make a pitch face-to-face. Face time matters to Millennials. 91% of Millennial donors are at least somewhat likely to respond to a face-to-face request for money from a non-profit organization; 27% being highly likely to respond to such a request.
    • Another source, The Next Generation of American Giving showed in 2012 the most popular donor channel for Generation Y was checkout donation at 57%.
  2. Befriend their friends.
    • Most Millennial donors say they would be likely or highly likely to to donate to an organization if asked by a family member (74.6%) or a friend (62.8 %).
  3. Maintain their trust.
    • It’s important to Millennials that organizations keep their word. In fact, they put such value on trust that 84% said they would be somewhat or very likely to donate to organizations that they can fully trust, and 90% said they would stop giving to an organization that they could not trust.
  4. Make the ask.
    • Most people in my generation have never been asked by a nonprofit to give a donation. We hear from our friends to garner support, but few nonprofits explain to us how we can really make an impact with a donation. We’re not a lot cause, so you may as well just ask.

In all honesty,  these steps remind me of building any other good relationship. Just remember to use good sense, make your pitch personal, tap into our social circles and be trustworthy. If you do all of those things and simply ask, we’ll likely remember you the next time we’re deciding where to donate.

Author Dawn Crawford

More posts by Dawn Crawford

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