Engaging Millenials in Your Non-Profit Cause

There was a time in the non-profit sector when attracting a wide variety of demographics to your cause was a much simpler task. Indeed, the spirit of giving and volunteerism was and is strong among the Baby Boomer generation, and just slightly less so in Gen-Xers. Research has shown that older generations tend to give more of their time, talent and dollars, leading said researchers to surmise that the immediate post-World War II era was the time when the seeds of charitable giving were sewn, and that ideal was instilled in successive generations at an early age.


However, the times are changing—rapidly. And for non-profits, that change is sorely evident in their efforts to attract and engage the so-named “Millenials,” those persons currently aged 20-30. Millenials represent a unique challenge for non-profits: for one thing, being bombarded by social media and technology tends to draw their attention from cause-related issues in favor of more entertainment-based diversions. Also, Millenials tend to react differently—if they react at all—to the old tried-and-true methods of donation seeking that many non-profits have thrived on for years.

So the question remains: how should a non-profit step up its game to engage this unique demographic? Here are four elements that all cause-related organizations should incorporate into their monetary and volunteer campaigns in an effort to encourage interest from this curious generation.

Create great content on your website
Millenials thrive on the Internet. So to be successful in that arena a non-profit must create content that speaks directly to them. Use lots and lots of video, as the aforementioned research has shown this is the single greatest element that attracts this audience. And be sure your website was built with responsive design so that it renders correctly across the array of mobile devices: each year less and less Millenials use a stationary desktop or even a standard laptop computer.

Think like a for-profit company
Charity in general isn’t always a particularly sexy undertaking. And non-profits that offer up gifts for giving—tshirts, bumper stickers etc.—are absolutely not appealing to this generation. So when you market your non-profit, get clued in to what Millenials are buying and using and offer magazine-quality photographs of hip merchandise in exchange for a donation. And if possible, pull in a celebrity or two to be a sort of brand ambassador for your organization, just like a for-profit company would do.

Engage in new ways
Social media—as mentioned previously one of the absolute constants in Millenial’s lives—is the hallmark of today’s successful non-profits. So use multiple social media channels consistently in ways that generate a call to action: this could mean setting a fundraising goal and keeping donors aware of its progress through Facebook or generating your own truly unique #hashtag that embodies the spirit and purpose of your campaign and launching it on Twitter or Instagram.

Keep things fun
Work off the power of community and competition by having live events with a strong element of competition. For instance, host a field day where longtime supporters face off against one another in sporting events: Millenials will see the opportunity for a level of involvement that involves a strong element of play, and you’ll be much more likely to not only attract them to your cause but keep them active in it for the long run.

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