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Tap Into the Power of Millennials, Peer-to-Peer Influence and Crowd-Contributing – Why You Need To Start Now!

Resource Center - Foundation

There’s a quiet revolution happening in the world of fundraising and if you’re not onboard with it yet, I predict it won’t be long before you are. This revolution is driven by the convergence of several diverse, yet related factors, including the growth of social giving, technology advancements (of course!) and the power of the largest generational group we’ve ever seen—the Millennials.

You may already be tapping into some of these elements: social media, peer-to-peer influence and crowd-funding. The greatest impact is seen when you bring them all together and take your fundraising to the next level. How you go about leveraging this huge opportunity is not as intimidating as it may sound. Let’s take a look at the different elements and how they can all be brought together to spread awareness, raise support, recruit donors and help you to elevate your mission. 

But first, to get you thinking about what motivates the act of giving, here are some numbers from the 2012 NTEN Charitable giving survey: 

What motivates people to become involved in a nonprofit and support it?

  • 65 percent believe in the charity’s cause.
  • 30 percent want to make change happen.
  • 20 percent have friends or family who support it.
  • 19 percent know someone who has received help from the cause.
  • 18 percent—the charity asked for their help.

Now that we know about the motivating factors, how do we engage and attract millennials? Who are millennials and why do they matter to your organization? Here are some quick facts 

  • Millennials were born between 1980 and 2001.
  • They are the largest generational group ever—92 million individuals.
  • Some typical traits include: entitled, optimistic, civic-minded, impatient, grew up with close-parental involvement, believe in work-life balance, excel at multi-tasking and are very team-oriented.

The first thing you may have noticed is that many millennials are not yet old enough to become donors, or have not entered their prime earning and giving years. So what can they do for you?

We know that over time people tend to give (most) to their top two favorite charities, so building a relationship with someone early—before they can even donate—gives you a clear advantage. Engage them as teenagers and retain them as donors for life!

And we know that this group is civic-minded and team oriented—not surprising given that they were likely required to volunteer in high school and college—so banding together to achieve a goal is second nature to them. They are also digital natives who grew up using technology and social media so sharing information online and influencing (and being influenced by) their peers is an integral part of their daily lives.

I encourage you to read the Millennial Impact Research Study carried out each year by Achieve. Their study looks at how Millennials (ages 20-30) connect, involve and support causes. In this survey, responses to a key question revealed that in order to attract this demographic, a multi-channel approach is called for with a strong emphasis on an engaging website and active social media presence.

How do you prefer to learn about nonprofits?

  • Website  65 percent
  • Social media   55 percent
  • eNewsletter  47 percent
  • Print   18 percent
  • Face-to-face  17 percent

If you’re still not clear why these yet-to-be donors are important to the health of your organization, don’t worry, just read on.

Peer-to-Peer Influence and The Online Social Life of Today’s and Tomorrow’s Donors 

Peer-to-peer influence is powerful! People are much more likely to trust their friends and family when it comes to decisions such as where to eat, what to buy and which cause is worth supporting. 

  • A study (by Yankelovich) shows that when it comes to trusted sources, 65 percent trust friends while just 27 percent trust experts. 
  • A 2007 study (by Jupiter Research) revealed that online social network users are three times more likely to trust their peer’s opinions over advertising.
  • And  91 percent of moms prefer brands that other moms recommend (MarketingVox). Because, Mom knows best!

The popular (run- walk- ride-) athons may have opened the door (or floodgates) for leveraging peer-to-peer influence via social and email campaigns but peer-influenced giving has now grown way beyond that. People, and Millennials in particular, are already sharing their activities and stories online, whether it is their happy hour photos, a recent vacation or a cause they are concerned about.  They are quick to sign an online petition or contact an elected official, and it is this level of empowerment that can help them champion your mission.  

The recent Charity/NTEN Donor Engagement Report asked:

How are people being your champions?

  • 54 percent talk to friends and family
  • 40 percent encourage friends and family to donate
  • 30 percent encourage friends and family to volunteer 

That level of support and influence is something to be encouraged.

Remember, there’s also a trend for people to become their own brand—“I’m a person who believes in…” By partnering with them and becoming a trusted source, you help elevate their personal brand while they support and promote yours’.  

Let’s say people are talking about your mission, your Facebook posts and pictures are getting lots of “likes” and “shares” and you have a cadre of champions for your cause. A quick note here about Millennials—they consider a “like” or “follow” to have real value—something to keep in mind as part of your long-term nurturing campaign with them.

Now you’re ready to convert all this support and influence into something tangible like increased donations and more donors. To make this next step happen you have to empower your champions to join together and achieve their goals—and that is the basis of crowd-contributing.

What Crowd-Contributing Can Do For You

Here at Avectra we use the term crowd-contributing to describe our IdeaStarter™ solution, and here’s why:

Crowd-sourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people.

Crowd-funding describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their financial resources.

Crowd-contributing is a combination of both sourcing and funding.

Clearly you want to harness the power of these options along with being ready to accept financial and non-financial donations. Crowd-contributing offers benefits to the charity and to the individual or group supporter. Here’s how:

For the individual or group:

  • It’s tangible – people know where their contributions are going and see what they are achieving.
  • It provides leadership opportunities for people of all ages.
  • It allows groups to partner with others—even in another part of the world—to accomplish something real together.
  • People can pool their resources to achieve something great.
  • People who are not able to donate money can still contribute via volunteer hours, connections, etc. 

For the nonprofit:

  • It allows you to break down a large goal into smaller-size “bites” or “micro-projects”.
  • It can be used for new projects or for specific funding goals within annual and capital campaigns.
  • Your nonprofit and its mission become well-known. People will be sharing your story.
  • It provides an acquisition channel.

Ready To Get Started with Launching A Successful Crowd-Contributing Program?

I recently gave a webinar for AFP with Donna Wilkins, CEO of CharityDynamics. Wilkins provided some excellent advice and next steps for launching a successful crowd-contributing program at your organization. I recommend that you watch the webinar and also read the 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study.

John Clese is a longtime fundraiser with extensive and diverse experience in the fundraising and nonprofit space. He currently works with Avectra's major clients implementing constituent scoring and retention strategies.  Prior to joining Avectra, Clese oversaw the capital campaign for a new YMCA on Martha's Vineyard and served as its CEO.  He currently serves as a volunteer on the Leadership Council for Year Up, Chicago. Clese hosts numerous webinars on the subjects of fundraising and membership engagement and is a frequent speaker at AFP Leadership Academy, AFP International, AFP Techno Conference, NTEN, Association Foundation Group and the North American Interfraternity Conference Foundations Seminar. 

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