Now with four years of data in place, the 2013 edition of the Millennial Impact Report by AchieveGuidance and The CASE Foundation has just been released. This is a comprehensive annual survey, published with recommendations on how nonprofit organizations can better reach this emerging group and convert them into “champions, evangelists, and long-term supporters.”
Broadly, the three steps to success with this dynamic generation are CONNECT – INVOLVE – GIVE. These three steps could arguably be the same for any donor cultivation plan, but there are critical differences in the way the Millennials (defined by this project as born 1979-1994, ages 18-34) prefer to receive information, respond to appeals, and engage with your nonprofit.
The new 34-page report is available here. In RMA’s view, here are some of the most notable findings:
1. Keep current, or don’t bother. Web sites that are quickly and obviously seen as out of date are a top complaint. And just keeping your site current and fresh is actually not enough, since these emerging donors do not expect to have to return to your site to find out updates; they may connect initially with you through a site, but prefer to receive their newest information via other social media.
2. Show, don’t tell. Stop writing so much text. Photography and video is a must, and it should be polished and professional. (In spite of what your brother-in-law says, it’s a very rare amateur photographer or web designer who can fool you into thinking his/her work is professional grade, and Millennials are accustomed to top quality.) Show action, on site, not static staff or office shots. Have fewer images and make them BIG.
3. See it, share it. Your content must be designed to be easily shared and immediately actionable. 75% of those surveyed said they will quickly share content on social media, with photos being the most shared item. “Sharing is indirect advocacy,” the report aptly says. Make it easy, like writing a tweet for them to copy (if you’re not pushing content out on Twitter in the first place). Keep in mind that what is likely to be shared is compelling, timely content about your cause/work, not your organization per se.
4. It’s mobile. Don’t picture this audience at a desktop computer—83% have smartphones and are far more likely to be viewing your information on a small screen. This is all the more reason to keep your web pages clean and simple, with larger type and larger buttons.
5. It isn’t about you. This generation is way less interested in your organizational process and structure and much more so about the cause, the people you serve. In the research, there was actually a concern voiced about “too much information about the group itself.” Transparency is big to this group, but that doesn’t mean they want to read reports.
6. Beef up your virtual training. Millennials are less likely to physically come to a long training session to get up to speed; they may see it as a waste of time and a barrier to the joy of engagement.
7. Make your call to action truly actionable. The top action steps that Millennials are likely to take from a web site or email include sign a petition or pledge, make a donation, share or forward content, sign up to volunteer, or buy merchandise (t-shirt, hat, bag, sticker).
8. Don’t ask for money at every turn. Don’t confuse “involve” with “give now.” Give young people alternative ways to support you that aren’t always about cash. This is why better buttons are DO SOMETHING TO HELP or MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD rather than simply DONATE.
9. A tight timeline from connect to involve is great–with a peer emphasis. “Join 20 other people like you at a clean-up day this Saturday” is an excellent example. The survey noted that motivations for quick involvement with peers include acting on passion for the cause (79%), meeting people (56%), and gaining expertise (46%).
10. Think small. Young donors are interested in making small gifts more often. Half of the survey group was open to monthly gifts. There is also high recognition and familiarity with raising money through walks or races, since that is the most common philanthropic experience Millennials have. That said, just because employment and career opportunities are tough for this generation doesn’t mean they aren’t givers: 83% of those surveyed made a financial gift to an organization in 2012.