According to the Millennial Impact Report, 83% of all millennials made a donation in 2012, and that number has grown steadily since then.
We millennials are the largest growing group, and organizations everywhere are looking to grow the millennial donor pool. As a public sector veteran, and a proud millennial donor, I often get asked about my intentions for giving and what I hope to gain from the experience. The answer is quite simple – passion for the cause, and networking to gain professional expertise. So, if you’re looking to invest in budding millenial philanthropists, follow my 4 T’s of Millennial Giving – Transparency, Treasures, Track, and Transformation.
Small monthly gifts or ‘micro’ donations draw us in. Why? Our generation came into the workforce during the worst economic recession in recent history, and we’re working hard to pay off large amounts of college debt, save for travel and weddings and gadgets, and live in an ever more expensive world. Did I mention retirement? With little chance of tapping into Social Security, many of us are stashing away for the future.
Meet us where we are, and focus on engaging us in your organization. Don’t just call me to make an ask; be sure to invite us for events and engagement opportunities that are the right fit for our generation. That 7 am breakfast might not be the best way.
Like many others in my generation, I have made the decision to only invest in organizations that offer complete transparency about where my money goes. Unambiguous financial and programmatic reports, along with clear future goals tugs us closer to your cause. For starters, all organizations need to have a clean website that’s mobile friendly – because we spend an inordinate amount of time on our devices. The work you do, annual reports, and a way to connect – should be easy to find, and engaging.
Instead of sending me a monthly newsletter full of cotton candy content, send me a solid one-to-two page summary that includes both great stories, and the data that drives it.
Are you capturing my engagement against your goals? How about tracking your own outputs and outcomes?
Passion might draw in millennial givers, but high quality engagements and organizational outcome tracking is what keeps us connected in the long term. Rather than simply counting the output of their programs, or the number of clients they serve, social impact organizations need to be measuring both the outcomes and the SROI of those programs.
Same goes for goal setting and tracking a donor’s involvement. Do you log our interactions in place that’s easy to find for the rest of your organization’s staff? How about making a note of how we like to connect? A lot of us tweet, click-to-shop, and engage in non-traditional ways – and we love it when you meet us where we are. A few years ago, I gave to a nonprofit organization that would do quarterly thank you calls, and despite my asking to be put on a ‘do not call’ list – I kept getting the calls. Now, some of you reading this might be inclined to think that I lack gratitude or that I’m antisocial, but I value thank-you’s in the form of a tweet, rather than a lengthy voice-mail.
Millennial givers love stories of transformation, and are inspired to make repeat gifts to organizations they see as challenging the status quo and transforming their communities. The Impact Report clearly states millennial involvement in local organizations (versus global), and the desire for civic and community growth. Not only do we want to make an investment in an organization that’s improving our neighborhoods, schools, and community – but we want to be a part of that change. Donors who feel like they’ve made an impact (outside their monetary gift) are even more likely to stick around.
Millennial engagement is not a tricky puzzle to solve, but rather a series of simple steps that invite young donors, immerse them in an organization’s work, and help create measurable impact.
*According to the Millennial Impact report, 79% young people gave to organizations and causes they were passionate about, 56% were interested in meeting new people, and 46% wanted to grow professional expertise.
Aparna Rae is the Director of Strategy at Bhumi (Chennai), serves as the Vice-Chair at The Service Board (Seattle) and manages LiveImpact’s marketing initiatives.