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Effective Fundraising Techniques for Reaching Millennial Donors

fundraising marketing and communications relationship building Dec 18, 2020

Segmenting your donors into age grouping, researching those age cohorts and using the information to then develop specific fundraising techniques that appeal to each separate generational group can drastically improve your fundraising results. Successful fundraising campaigns start with customization of communication vehicles and fundraising techniques to specific donor groups. Different fundraising techniques appeal to different generations more than others. As we have previously stated, age cohort information is readily available through the census bureau and The Center for Generational Kinetics. We have previously discussed what appeals to Greatest Generation, Baby Boomer and Gen X donors. Now we discuss specific fundraising techniques that best reach Millennial donors.

Millennial Donor Cohort Characteristics

Millennials were born between 1980-1995. They are the sons and daughters of the late Baby Boomers. Unlike the Baby Boomers, Millennials did not grow up amidst violent cultural strife. Millennials grew up with colossal advances in technology and the advent of the internet. They are tech-savvy. In fact, as a group, they take technology for granted. They don’t know a world without it.

Millennials grew up participating in group activities, including playgroups, dance classes and team sports, among others. They value teamwork. They look for ways to be included and involved. Growing up in a team environment where attainment of any kind was rewarded, Millennials seek constant input and affirmation from others. Millennials also tend to be committed, confident and achievement oriented.

Many Millennials attended college and now carry high student loan debt. They tend to be married or in a relationship. If they have them, their children are elementary school aged. Millennials juggle moving up the income ladder with heavy family commitments, particularly for their children who tend to be involved in a multitude of after school sports, music and other activities.

Millennials make up 25.9 percent of the total population and 33 percent of the workforce. According to Charitable Giving in the USA 2019, 30 percent of Millennials donate to nonprofit causes while 24 percent volunteer. Millennial donors, however, make up only 11 percent of total charitable giving in the United States. “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, Y, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, Millennials donors are top supporters of human rights and international development, child development, and victims of crime and abuse. Fifty-five percent of Millennial donors will attend or participate in a fundraising event. Forty percent of Millennial donors donate through a monthly giving program. Forty-seven percent of Millennial donors give through a website while 16 percent give through Facebook. Individual gifts from Millennial donors over a one-year span average a total $481 across an average 3.3 organizations. Millennial donors respond best to text messaging and social media, rarely responding to email or voice calls. 

Developing Effective Fundraising Campaigns Aimed to Reach Millennial Donors

As opposed to The Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer donors who will respond to printed materials and phone calls, Millennial donors overwhelming respond to social media and text messaging. With Millennials, technology rules. The good news is that: 1) social media campaigns are less expensive and less labor intensive than print and phone campaigns, and 2) all other donor groups except the Greatest Generation will respond to social media. By implementing your fundraising campaigns through social media, you can drastically increase your net income. Not a bad deal.

Create social media fundraising campaigns that include viewing online videos; liking, following or promoting your nonprofit; participating in your cause; and donating to you. Of course, if you’re asking people to give online, you need to make sure it is easy to find you. Where do you rank in Google searches?  Do you provide links to your website in your electronic communications? What about your landing page? What kind of impression is your website making? Do you need to update your website? In addition, you need to make sure it is easy to give to you. Go through your process for making donations and count the clicks. How many clicks does it take? Will a potential donor get frustrated and give up? What about your donation process can be streamlined?

Millennial donors, like Baby Boomer donors, have a deep sense of social commitment. Millennials are dedicated to social causes and committed to achieving positive social outcomes. Use advocacy campaigns and events to attract Millennial donors to your cause. Emphasize the group nature of your campaigns. Plan group activities where team members can interact with one another, like community rallies or online petitions. Talk about how individual donors contribute to the team. Point out the different but equally important roles your donors play in contributing to positive social change. Confident and team oriented, Millennial donors view themselves as equals to other team members. Play up that equality.

Thank you messages are important to send to all of your donors, but they are especially important to send to your Millennial donors. Acknowledging, thanking and validating Millennial donors are musts if you want to retain them. Remember that Millennials as a group need constant feedback and affirmation. Give it to them. Acknowledge all contributions Millennials make to your cause, not only monetary ones. Constantly validate their efforts toward improving the social condition. Affirm their giving activities. At every step. Every baby step. Millennials will not be offended by getting thanked too much.

If you want to engage your Millennial donors further, plan short volunteer engagements or activities. In fact, structure your fundraising activities to be community events. Involve the whole family if you can. Millennials don’t have a lot of time after tending to their family commitments. They have young children involved in variety of community activities. Family is very important to Millennial donors. Family units are also natural teams and teamwork is important to Millennials.

Other natural teams are found in the workplace. Millennials are a potent force in the corporate world, making up 33 percent of the workforce. Tapping into workplace initiatives will increase Millennial donor engagement with your cause. Corporations offer many workforce giving programs including employee matching gifts, employee volunteerism and management of employee donor advised funds. Who employs your Millennial donors? Will those employers pay you or their employees for short, structured nonprofit volunteer experiences?  Do you promote employer matching gift programs in your fundraising campaigns, letting your Millennial donors know they partners with their company? Have you talked to your Millennial donors about approaching their employers to make you part of their philanthropic giving? Letting your Millennial donors know you do these things shows them they are part of powerful, effective teams making progress toward achieving social good.

In Conclusion

To best reach Millennial donors, remember:

  • Technology is where it’s at. Liberally use social media and text messaging campaigns.
  • Ask them to like, follow and promote you on social media.
  • Create messages emphasizing group accomplishments.
  • Make donating to your cause an action that is part of a larger group effort.
  • Ask for participation in advocacy efforts, not only money.
  • Continually acknowledge, thank and validate them.
  • For maximum dollars, tap into workplace giving initiatives.
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