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Joining the Force of 80 Million Strong – The Millennials

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Based on the sheer numbers alone, Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve, finds a majority of his work revolving around millennials, the next generation of donors. As the largest generation thus far (80 million), the millennials have a hand in shaping the nonprofit world as donors, activists, consumers, volunteers, and even board members and fundraisers.

Those 80 million millennials are also shaping today’s workplace and marketing messaging. Which is why his AFP webinar focuses on Raising Support from Millennials: How to Raise Support from Younger Donors, on Tuesday, March 19 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST. (If you missed it, don’t worry! It will be available for download here, in the AFP On-Demand Collection.)

So, you have all of these possible future donors, what are you going to do with them? Feldmann finds that a challenge is that the millennials aren’t necessarily wealthy donors NOW, but they’re possible recipients of a massive amount of wealth from their baby boomer parents.

“Engaging the millennials now gives potential for them to give in the future, once they inherent this wealth,” prompts Feldmann.

Getting to Know Your Future Donors and Leaders

In order to work together, not against, across generations, you’ve first got to dedicate some time to getting to know and understand the millennials. Yes, it’s fair to say that they should do the same for you, but we’ll get there.

Over the last four years Achieve, with the support of The Case Foundation, have been performing a search through the Millennial Impact Project, to see how millennials engage with projects. The research looked at how millennials connect through mobile/social media and how they give. First and foremost, millennials act in “micro” ways before going to a larger place of involvement.

“We see them taking action by ‘liking’ something on Facebook, or giving small amounts to their friends’ causes,” says Feldmann. “As an organization we have to find a way to heighten that involvement over the course of time. If they ‘like’ a cause, or give $5, what’s the next step to engage?’

Feldmann explains that a great way to engage the millennials through these micro actions is to engage them in groups. Peer involvement is a huge influence for the next generation. A millennial may support their friends’ cause and not necessarily count that as being a “donor” because it’s something personable and relatable for them.

Participation via mobile communication among millennials continues to be extremely high, not just in text giving, but as a whole. 75 percent of millennials have used a mobile device to look up causes and organizations to find more information. They want to be able to obtain quick and concise information on the fly. Once they have that information it’s much easier and faster for them to spread the word, compared to past generations. Millennials use the tool of social media for peer engagement to get their friends involved in a cause.

“One of the best things to say to a seasoned fundraiser is to become a facilitator of these small groups and bring them together and engage them. Play on the millennials’ peer engagement,” encourages Feldmann.

Feldmann will be discussing the latest millennial donor research from the 2012 Millennial Donor and Engagement Study, all the while sharing real lessons of successful and innovative implementation of millennial programs during his education session, Engaging the Next Generation Donor, at the 2013 AFP International Conference on Fundraising.

Now That We’re Acquainted – Here’s How to Appeal to The Millennials

With a better understanding of WHO the millennials are and how they think—now you have to figure out how to get through to them. Feldman provides three ways to break through:

1.)   Update your look! Your campaigns, websites and communications need to “look” like this generation. It may seem menial, but if it doesn’t feel familiar to millennials then it won’t appeal to their senses.

2.)   Transparency! Equate money immediately to show the outcome. Don’t just say, “Give to our organization because we provide funding for cancer.” Be specific! “Give us $5 to help this specific person with their battle with cancer.” Show and tell where their money goes so they can build a connection between their dollar and the cause.

3.)   Usability! Millennials turn to usability, something you experience in an online environment, as an easy way to grasp something, and quickly. If your organization doesn’t appeal to usability then the millennials aren’t going to pay as much attention.

If you’re still completely lost, take a cue from some organizations that are doing it right! Feldmann suggests checking out the following organizations to see how they appeal (and break through!) to the next generation:

Working Across Generations

Feldmann’s new book with co-author Kari Saratovsky, Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement, offers a Millennial Development Platform in each chapter to help organizations create the infrastructure for a long-term millennial engagement strategy.

At the 2013 AFP International Conference on Fundraising, a panel of both sides—seasoned fundraisers and young professionals—will discuss the issues, differences and stumbling blocks that are typical of the cross-generational relationship, and how to overcome them. Feldmann assures, whichever side of the divide you are on, his session, What Can You Learn From the Next Generation and What Can They Learn From You?, on Tuesday, Apr. 9 at 8:00 a.m. is for you.

Millennials are here, and they’re not going anywhere, so why not combine forces and realize it’s a Cause for Change? Imagine the impact on the profession and the world when the masterminds of past generations adopt and mentor the 80 million creative geniuses of tomorrow.


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