When it comes to acquiring and retaining donors, it’s somewhat surprising that so many nonprofits seem to disregard younger audiences. Many times, organizations cling to the perception that because these individuals are younger and have less money, their contributions aren’t worth the time and investment. But for those organizations who have taken the time to invest in this Millennial generation, the rewards are often quite impressive.
An Investment In Your Nonprofit’s Future
Just think: when the most recent recession hit in 2008, many people lost significant portions of their savings in a matter of weeks. For a large number of those that fall into the categories of Baby Boomers and Generation X, this was almost a deathblow to their retirement funds. But fortunately for Millennials, they still have decades to regain what they may have lost. So while investing in short-term, immediate donations remains important, as the Millennials continue to build their wealth over time, it’s important to develop a long-lasting and continuous relationship with them. To do this successfully, however, you can’t just simply redirect your current messages. If you want to succeed in this 18-30 demographic, here are six absolutely essential practices you’ll need to adopt.
Responsive Web Design
You have a website? Good. Is it optimized for multiple platforms? If your site hasn’t been updated for a few years, it probably isn’t. And that’s a potentially fatal mistake when it comes to donor acquisition among younger audiences. In 2013, mobile devices accounted for over 30% off all web traffic worldwide. The vast majority of that browsing was conducted by Millennials. If you’re trying to target this demographic, one of the first things a Millennial will do is visit your website or search for you on Google or Bing, and if they’re among the nearly 70% of American Millennials with a smartphone, odds are good that they’ll do so on a mobile device. And while first impressions may not always be everything, they are incredibly important, especially among this generation. If a young adult can’t easily navigate your website on the go, you’ll probably lose their interest. Make sure your website uses Responsive Web Design (RWD).
Mobile & Online Payments
As important as being able to navigate your website easily across platforms may be, being able to donate online, via text message, or through an application is even more essential. To most Millennials, mailing donations is absolutely archaic, and carrying a checkbook is a thing of the past. If you want to maximize your fundraising capabilities, especially among young adults, adding the capability to safely and securely accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, and other online merchant services is a must.
Yes, video. It may not be the first thing you think of, but young audiences love to have something to view. Just look at the popularity of websites like YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, Twitch and Netflix: millions of regular users, most of them under the age of 30. Next time you host an event, throw a charity dinner, or bring in a keynote speaker, try recording or live-streaming it, and post a short excerpt to your website. It’s fairly simple to do if your site uses RWD, and it will allow new donors to literally see what your organization does, and even offer your current constituents the ability to relive an event, or participate remotely.
Active Social Media Presence
If there’s anything that young people love more than the Internet, it’d probably be social media. Last year, almost 90% of people between the ages of 18-29 used websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If your organization isn’t actively participating on social media sites on a regular basis, you’re missing out on another huge opportunity to connect with potential donors. This is the prime location to develop and maintain long-lasting relationships with your donors and community, so don’t neglect it.
Unique, Fun Events
Sometimes, the best way to grow relationships and improve goodwill is to simply have fun. So do that! Charity dinners and 5K events are fantastic, but they’re common, and rarely differ drastically between organizations and causes. If you want to start a number of new relationships, and bring in a lot of donations, think outside of the box. Try hosting a Color Run, sponsor an Open-Mic Night, or throw a multi-faceted “THON” event. If you’re really adventurous, try taking some inspiration from a few cool events we highlighted earlier this month. Doing something more involved may require more planning and work than some of your other events, but doing so might just pay off big for your cause.
Recently, we have been seeing an increasing trend in younger donors being more generous and likely to participate and help causes that they feel are worthy of their individual donations. That’s right, causes. Not organizations. If you want to capture the attention of the younger generation, make sure that you’re properly marketing and communicating the importance of your cause, and what value and benefit their participation will bring to it, rather than focusing the emphasis on what your organization does to accomplish it.