At the ripe old age of 24, I consider myself a certified “Millennial,” qualified to make a few observations about what makes members of my generation different from everyone else. I am aware that my cohort has been the topic of countless studies with regard to what motivates us to give to worthwhile non-profit causes, and how we engage in communications.
In general, I have come to believe that Millennials just don’t get excited about giving money to organizations. If my contemporaries feel strongly about an initiative or a societal need, they first will demonstrate their interest by volunteering their time and energy. It’s fairly obvious that individuals barely out of college generally don’t have a great deal of discretionary income; thus even the idea of small donations of cash can be daunting for them. But for professional fund raisers trying to engage Millennials, here is the good news: even if this age demographic doesn’t have the money to give to a cause, they will nonetheless contribute through means of volunteer work and social media advocacy to get the job done. So don’t give up just because Millennials won’t (or can’t) immediately contribute major dollar amounts. If the interest and loyalty of these young people can be secured by successfully outlining a worthy cause, I believe they have the potential of contributing much more in the future, so stick with them.
It’s no great revelation that Millennials tend to communicate primarily through social media. It would be rare to find someone in my age group who doesn’t have multiple methods to communicate electronically. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it potentially is a great thing when it comes to making the case for fundraising. Effective and strategic utilization of social media can enable one to reach hundreds, if not thousands, for a “cause.” This is especially true if this “cause” is something that Millennials understand, embrace and demonstrate a passion for.
So my advice to fund raisers trying to solve the Millennial enigma, engage us as early as possible with volunteer opportunities, and make the “cause” understandable and compelling for us. And then dive into social media. That’s what we understand, and that’s what helps us make decisions on which causes to embrace.
Given the current demographic trends, Millennials should soon have the greatest buying power in the United States, surpassing the “Baby Boomer” generation. Also, social media technologies and applications seem to be changing everyday. With that being said, there is no reason Millennials won’t reach out to more people through this expanding, social media world. Thus, getting more of us to believe and buy into “the cause.”