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4 Keys to Millennial Giving

4 Keys to Millennial Giving

August 21, 2015
Asher Orr

In the very near future, millennial engagement will be essential for nonprofits to continue cultivating a pipeline of support for years to come.

However, for many nonprofits, garnering support from my generation is a major challenge. Millennials, also called “The Global Generation” or “Generation Connect,” have grown up in an entirely different environment from Generation X, Baby Boomers, and other age groups that often fill leadership roles in nonprofit organizations. We’re often stereotyped as lazy, self-centered, and social-media addicted 20-somethings, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to research done by the CASE Foundation, 83 percent of millennials made some type of financial gift to philanthropic organizations in 2012. Millennials, in my opinion, understand the need for philanthropy more than any other generation due to the interconnected world we live in.

Internet-based technologies have allowed us to hear and share stories highlighting the need for giving all over the world. Furthermore, feeling as if we’re making a positive difference to alleviate injustices often plays a major role in where we work, what we do, and the organizations we dedicate our time to.

Garnering support from us isn’t impossible! Like all donors, all it takes is an understanding of the factors that shape our lifestyle, so that you can leverage your cause in a way that truly enters our hearts and minds.

Follow these 4 keys for cultivating millennial giving:

1. Have a smart digital platform.

If you could sum up the millennial generation in one word, it would be “digital.” We live and breathe digital content. Paper not only destroys trees that provide our oxygen, but the content on a piece of paper typically takes too much time to read in our time-constrained lives.

Have a smart digital platform, particularly for mobile devices. Your website should be as simple and easy to navigate as possible. Make your messages quick, concise, and to the point. Also, make sure it’s easy to donate online! No more than 1-3 clicks. Check out services like PayPal and Venmo that are designed to transfer money in seconds.

2. Dont use the word “donate.”

The technology we’ve grown up with is participatory. It’s all about 2-way engagement. Because of this, don’t use the word “donate.” It implies that we’re just giving our money to another person that will do all the work. Use terms that evoke a true sense of personal involvement. “Investment” is a good example.

3. Link giving to specific projects.

This is a key for all donors, regardless of age, but this is particularly important among millennials. Again, because of the digital tools we use that are participatory, we want to feel directly involved with the work a nonprofit organization does. Seeing directly where our dollars are going is a method of ensuring that. Focus groups from a research study titled “The Millennial Impact” found that our biggest frustration was not knowing how each gift made a difference.

4. Utilize online networks.

In the 21st century, using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will be one of the most effective ways to spread your cause. Studies have shown that up to 75% of millennials share content on social media. Some may label this as a superficial form of philanthropy, but the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, a social-media-centered campaign, raised over $100 million for ALS research. Sharing your network with a nonprofit’s cause is effective. Be sure to generate content that can be easily shared over online networks.


Asher Orr