Capturing the fundraising power of millennials

Millennials — otherwise known as Generation Y, digital natives, Generation Me, Generation Rent and echo boomers — are generally defined as those born roughly between 1980 and 2000. The group is increasingly making their presence known with an estimated 75.4 million millennials currently living in the United States.

Millennials are now commanding the largest wallet power of any generation, with estimates of $200 billion annually for 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers. Many for-profit companies are taking notice of generation’s market power, yet many nonprofits lag behind and need to refocus efforts to embrace and engage the new largest generation to capture their potential fundraising power.

Charitable organizations, including cultural centers, hospitals and social service agencies, herald myriad causes — many that appeal to the millennial generation. Millennials can be passionate about causes, particularly those that impact others. They are drawn to causes that make a difference and desire to become part of something that offers a lasting, powerful impact.

Embrace involvement

Millennials like to learn more before they commit to engaging or donating to causes. They seek more information about what a nonprofit does, who they help and how they work. Millennials also enjoy experiential activities. They look for ways to become involved with nonprofits through an activity, event or other hands-on volunteer opportunity as a way of better understanding the mission.

Be welcoming. Invite millennials to learn about a nonprofit’s good work through involvement. Include the generation in planning a fundraiser, friendraiser or annual drive. Assign specific tasks at your next activity. Embrace millennials’ resolve to become involved, and you’ll not only gain more hands-on help but also a chance to nurture and build a future board of directors and future mid-level donors.

Millennials offer fresh faces at fundraising activities helping even the most celebrated 25th-anniversary event feel new and exciting. As a major part of today’s workforce, millennials may open doors to new networks of individual, group or employer-based donors.

Connect with millennials to identify new ways to share your cause to funding resources. The tech-focused generation may be connected to younger companies that are growing faster than ever before and may be seeking to partner with charitable organizations.

Connect through technology

Most millennials are native tech users and constantly remain connected to people, information and organizations. They grew up using smartphones, laptops and tablets. Constant connectedness is a fact of life, and millennials prefer instant access to technology. Millennials elect to seek information on the spur of the moment through their smartphone or tablet device desiring immediate answers to questions.

Millennials are also social both online and offline and enjoy sharing their experiences with friends and colleagues. Take advantage of their vast social networks and provide ways to reach and build loyal next generation donors.

Use technology to push stories about your organization via social media platforms, making it easy for millennials to find out about you and then share your stories, helping you to quickly build a circle of followers via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat postings and shares. Nonprofits need to become more attuned to using engagement tactics to help expand donor databases with the expansive millennial generation market.

Use storytelling techniques. Use social media to further your cause by telling stories. Post pictures. Integrate videos into your communication. Feature the people who’ve benefited from your services.

Draw a direct line between your mission and the work you’re doing. Websites and information materials must tell stories about the immediacy of the work an organization is doing. Messages can be crafted featuring those you help a well as messages from important people connected to the cause sharing their inspiration to support and give.

Ignite donations

Embrace technology by incorporating it into everything you do. You’ll reap the benefits of streamlining efforts and uncover information you can put to good use with donor profiles and planning.

Become mobile friendly. Make sure your website is a mobile-based so it is easy to view, read and access at any time on any device. Be sure to prominently display the donate button, making it easy to give.

Be sure to give clear meaning to other call to actions such as ways to volunteer, spread the word or download specific materials. Integrate technology into fundraising processes to unleash efficient systems that will help you save time and help you raise more money.

Re-examine your fundraising activities. Make it easy and convenient for guests to donate. Digital-centric millennials prefer online and mobile options to purchase event tickets, or register to volunteer or participate in activities like silent or live auctions.

Make it exciting. Use technology to drive incentives to the event participants. Look for more revenue streams by including options off-site or remote participation to help increase donations and spur up demand at an actual event.

Technology provides valuable back-end support to donor database, volunteer and event management and creating reports. Modern tools help free up valuable resources better spent engaging more donors and igniting a continual flow of support and fresh prospects. Technology helps reduce costs and streamlines many fundraising pain points into a simplified more productive process.

Nonprofits that take notice of millennials behaviors and preferences by embracing more hands-on involvement, interaction via social media and mobile friendly websites can open the door to more revenue both now and in the future.

About the Author

Jim Alvarez is the founder and CEO of full-service fundraising technology company Gesture. Gesture has helped nonprofits across the country raise over $300 million since 2011 through the use of technology. Alvarez is the recipient of the Chicago Innovation Award and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award for his innovative idea and launch of Gesture. Alvarez drives the growing company to make hope happen for nonprofits developing innovative ideas that embrace technology.