A while back I wrote a post about engaging boomer volunteers,
offering some tips on attracting and retaining this keen group - many
of whom are at or reaching retirement age. But there is another
generational group on which non-profits and membership associations also need to
focus their attention: Millennials. This is the term that was coined
for those born between 1981 and 2000.
Millennials are the largest generation in American history
In terms of sheer size, Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers and
are now the largest generation in American history – estimated at 83
million strong. And according to a recent blog post, The Future of Fundraising: What a Difference Five Years will Make,
even though the oldest Millennial is only now reaching 30, you need to
start building relationships with this group, since they will be prime
donors, supporters and volunteers in about five years.
Are Millennials actively involved in your organization?
- Does your organization have any Millennials on your Board?
- Have you been successful in recruiting Millennials as active volunteers?
- Do you know how many of your donors are Millennials?
Getting to know Millennials
Back in May, we ran a post about the Millennial Donors Report by Achieve and JGA
, noting that this generation is “diverse, human and ready to give.”
This group differs from the older crowd by being highly “technologically
plugged-in – finding their information through web searches and social
media. But even at this young age, Millennials are already giving to
organizations where they’ve developed “personal connections or trust”
and volunteering when asked.
Jeff Hurt also blogged about Millennials in early June. In his post
he noted three critical findings from The Monitor Institute study: Disruption: Evolving Models of Engagement and Support: A National Study of Member-Based Advocacy Organization. The three critical findings he noted were:
- The benefits of traditional membership are not adequate to engage Millennials.
- Millennials participation is more sporadic and activity or event based.
- Traditional nonprofit methods do not inspire Millennials to give.
In June, there was a Millennial Donor Summit “to build a pool of knowledge for Millennial engagement.” In a June post, Beth Kanter offered up her “big picture takeaways” from participating in the Millennial Summit – which I’ve condensed:
- One big myth is that Millennials don’t trust nonprofit institutions and that isn’t true
… Millennials want to be hands on with nonprofits, get inside and
effect change … they want nonprofits to be efficient, useful, and
engaging. Yet, both within and on the outside, Millennials with great
ideas and passion are often met with coldwater statements
from their managers like “That is not the way we do things here.”
- Millennials have the potential to bring a lot of value in leadership to nonprofits
from within. They get emerging media and are ready to teach … they
have collaboration and networking skills that are in their DNA.
- If nonprofits want to understand Millennials, they need to talk to them, put them on their board.
What are the next steps for non-profits and associations in engaging Millennials?
Here is what some non-profit bloggers advise:
- Jeff Hurt (Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections) suggests the next steps are that “associations
need to accelerate the transition to online and new media by
coordinating across silos in marketing, fundraising, member engagement
and media relations.”
- Richard DeVeau (Fundraising Success) suggests, “the
first and most obvious answer is you better get started building
relationships with millennials. And I mean right away. Today. But forget
trying to do so through direct mail. While a recent survey
indicates that of all donors, across all age groups, 61 percent have
stated a preference for online giving, 89 percent of millennials state
this preference. …Millennials and technology are synonymous. It’s how
they relate to the world and each other. So it’s how they are going to
relate to your organization, too."
- Courtney Collins (Event 360)
reminds us that “as the first generation to have volunteerism as a
school requirement, we get the idea of giving back to our communities.
Before we do this, we first need your organization to find a way to grab
and hold our attention. … The most effective way to reach Millennial
donors is with a blend of technology and something truly time-honored:
- Beth Kanter (Beth’s Blog ) concludes her post by proposing “that
nonprofits have the opportunity to put fire in the bellies of their
programs by engaging Millennials from the inside and out with their
How is your organization embracing, recruiting and involving Millennials? Have you changed your member or volunteer management strategies? Let us know in the comments below.