Statistics from the 2013 Millennial Impact Report reveal that in 2012, 83% of the Millennials surveyed donated to an organization. Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are a demographic consisting of those born from 1980’s to 2000’s. (Full disclosure: Your author is also part of this lovable, but sometimes misunderstood, group.) Often, we are pegged as “self-centered” and “uncaring”, but I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true.
When there’s a cause that we believe in, we donate. When there’s an issue that gets our blood pumping, we volunteer our time and will even hit the streets to spread the word and fundraise. I’ve got the stats to prove it. That’s because, despite what is said of us (ahem, looking at you, Time magazine), we do, in fact, care.
Here are the three things your organization needs to do to get more Millennials clicking “Donate”.
- Paint a picture I will remember
- Tell me why I matter
- Make me look good
Paint a Picture I Will Remember
News flash: Millennials are not loyal to organizations or any specific non-profit. We are cause driven. That means we go where our heartstrings take us. So don’t hold back – tell an emotional story, or better yet, show us that story. Make us see the injustice in the world; inspire us to take action. A meaningful photograph or video will get our attention. And when you get us to believe, there’s nothing we won’t do.
Some ways to grab – and keep – the attention of Millennial donors:
- Use Evocative Imagery – A picture can illicit many emotions and drive home a point. Using pictures will also eliminate a lot of words, keeping the site simple and free of clutter. Images are a powerful tool that, if used correctly, can leave a lasting and powerful impression on younger and older audiences alike.
- Less is More – Don’t squeeze too much content onto the page. This will distract the donor from the ultimate goal – donating. You should be able to tell your message concisely while letting your graphics and page layout convey the rest.
- Ask Us To Commit – While we don’t have a lot of money, we will give what we can and as often as we can. In fact, as many as 52% of Millennials are interested in monthly giving, so make the option for monthly/reccurring gifts readily available.
And one more note on commitment: Your younger audiences aren’t just donating for the tax write-off. Again, it’s that whole notion of caring. So stay connected to us through regular communications about events, actions, relevant news, and updates. The more deeply you can engage Millennials in your cause, the more we will want to give back in return. Don’t believe the “slacktivist” hype: Find meaningful ways to integrate younger supporters into your work at every level – from your social media pages to the boardroom.
Tell Me Why I Matter
When it comes to donating, the “me me me generation” isn’t in it for the vanity, we’re looking for impact. We want to see how our contribution will actually make a difference. So get creative and share some details. What can my $15 really do for your cause? Whether it’s contributing to planting a tree, buying books for disadvantaged school children, or helping to buy an ad in a local newspaper, your goal is to help Millennials connect the dots between themselves and the things they care about most. If you need a refresher, check out this article to brush up on setting SMART goals for your fundraising campaign.
But if you’re going to earn Millennial dollars, you’ll also need to win our trust. You see, we don’t really trust you. No offense, of course. But we’re just a distrustful bunch. In fact, we are even more distrustful (see this, this, and this) than previous generations. Because of this, we need full visibility of where our money is going.
Some ways to win the trust – and dollars – of Millennials include:
- Show Me the Money Trail! Again, the name of the game is impact. UNICEF does a great job showing its donors how their gifts will be used. They explain that $50 will provide 50 vaccinations, including vaccines for measles, tetanus, and polio, a vaccine carrier, and 5 mosquito nets for children in developing countries.
- Put Your Brand Front and Center. This shows your confidence and belief in your own cause. Additionally, seeing your organization’s logo will re-enforce your brand identity.
- Simplicity. Give donors options for suggested giving levels. It makes your donation process a little easier for donors while also helping you assess and push average giving level amounts a little higher. Win-win.
- Security. Although convenience is a large part of Millennials’ desire to donate, nothing will drive donors away more quickly than a security breach. Make sure that your site and your donors’ information are protected.
Make Me Look Good
We want to look good - as a sharing generation, and as people in general. What better way to say “Hey, I’m a great person” than by sharing that I just donated $15 for an important cause. In fact, Salsa recently hosted a webinar where we talk about how nonprofits can help deepen supporter engagement on Facebook by helping their fans talk more about themselves as “a concerned activist” or “an informed citizen” or whatever role they get to play in advancing your cause.
Enabling Millennial donors to both share our actions – and more about ourselves – is the best way to build a lasting relationship with us. Bonus: Our peers feel the same way, so when we post about it, others will seek out the same action to garner the same feeling of satisfaction.
Some ways you can enable Millennials to do good (and look good while doing it):
- Social proof: Let us know that we’re in this together. Show potential donors that others have already joined in to support the cause and progress is being made. This will help gain donor confidence and may be that final push they need to give their first gift.
- Thank you: Giving your donor a gift can be a great incentive for some first-time donors. To make this most effective, the gift has to be consistent with your organization’s message. The more the gift is in line with your mission, the more likely it is to be utilized by your donor. And if the gift is wearable or something that can be displayed, it is also an opportunity for you to seize on some free advertising. Caution: We want to look good, not like a walking billboard!
- Sharing: Enable your donors to share with their friends their contribution to your organization. This will give them a boost in their self-image, as well as give exposure to your organization and the cause!
- Dedication/In Memoriam: Giving your donor an option to dedicate their gift to a memory of a loved one shows great consideration as well as encouragement for the potential donor to give.
And there you have it. I hope these tips help to de-mystify the elusive Millennial donor and urges you to step up your donor communications to younger audiences. Start small – maybe add an awesome graphic to your donation page – and then build from there. Remember: Millennials want to donate and if you play your cards right, we may just donate to you!
Keep learning how to connect with supporters online - Millenials, GenX and Baby Boomers alike. Download this Essential Guide to Social Media for Nonprofits.