By Preston A. Jones, CPA, Business Assurance & Advisory Services Manager | Not-for-Profit Industry Team
Attracting Millennials to Your Not-for-Profit
According to a recent study, within the next year the Millennial Generation (a loose designation, but generally thought of as those born between the years 1980 and 2000) will represent the single largest generation in the American workforce. The same study noted that 28% of these millennials are already in management-level positions. This means that millennials will soon become a sought-after demographic for charitable giving, and it is important to note the differences in what a millennial will respond to differently than the generations prior.
While millennials have developed a reputation of being needy and self-absorbed, a look into the numbers show that is not the case, at least so far as charitable giving is concerned. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report found that 87% of millennials donated to a not-for-profit in 2013, with the single most common range of giving being between 100 and 500 dollars. While those donations taken individually may not move the needle a drastic amount, consider that the Wall Street Journal estimates that millennials will come into $30 trillion of inter-generational wealth over the next several decades.
The question then becomes: how can you get involved now, so the millennials will remember your organization later?
Technology is Important
Millennials have spent their entire lives with a computer in their homes and most of their lives with a cell phone in their pockets, and respond to new technology more than any other generation. Millennials do not want to have to fill out forms, send anything through the mail, or drive to your office. For a millennial, charitable giving needs to be no more than a few clicks away. In 2012, year-over-year overall donations rose by 1.5%. Online donations, however, rose by 14%. If you have not already, it is worth the investment to set up online and mobile giving or else you will be missing out on this tremendous growth.
Make Giving Fun and Shareable
It is clear that millennials want to enjoy giving and have the opportunity to get their friends to enjoy it, too. Campaigns like the massively successful ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this past summer, or “Movember” and “No-Shave November” have been a hit because they do more than just ask for money or volunteers. While success on that level is not likely every time around, they demonstrate the power of encouraging social networking and being connected through social networks yourself. Set time aside to think of creative new ways to engage potential donors, rather than just going through the usual motions.
Clearly Demonstrate your Community Impact
Philanthropic advisor Ken Nopar has noted that millennials “aren’t interested in creating philanthropic legacies, but are more interested in the impact their donations can make today, rather than decades from now or after they’re dead.” What this means is that they care less about an organization’s mission statement and the great people they have working there, and more about what they have actually accomplished. This has also led to a generation that can volunteer its time rather than its money, as volunteering produces an immediate tangible result. Indeed, the aforementioned 2014 Millennial Impact Report indicates that 47% of millennials surveyed had volunteered in the past month. Make sure your website and brochures provide evidence of all the good your organization has actually accomplished, and find ways to involve volunteering as part of your contributing options.
If one thing is clear, it is that millennials offer a great opportunity for growth in the coming years. While it is important to realize that no generation can be entirely painted with one broad stroke, it is just as important to appreciate the fact that different generations will almost always require different strokes. There are only so many dollars to go around, so take all the measures necessary to ensure you are not the one left out next time a millennial opens his or her checkbook (if they even still have one!)
The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.