The Next Generation of Givers

nonprofit millennials

Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living population. Just as globalization has brought businesses closer together, technology has allowed donors to build a much more personal relationship with those they hope to help. This increase in communication causes young people to gravitate towards philanthropic organizations that stress a personal connection with those they help.

Earlier this month, the New York Times wrote about Watsi, an organization that helps fund medical treatments for people around the world. Watsi is an excellent example of a nonprofit that connects the donor with the person being helped. Watsi was founded in 2012 and has raised $7 million since, estimating that 65 percent of its donor base is made up of  millennials.

If you visit their website, you’ll see profiles that describe each recipient in detail, including photos, medical histories, timelines, and the estimated cost of medical care. If you donate to a recipient, you’ll receive email updates that will keep you informed on their progress. If you aren’t a donor but subscribe to Watsi’s  list, they will send you a monthly newsletter recommending a few patients to support each month. This tactic is very personal and tells a story that lets supporters see the impact they’re having.

Millennials get most of their information from the internet and spend hours interacting and engaging with friends and organizations online. Email is a big part of how they get that information. According to a Litmus study, 73% of millennials prefer email because it’s “part of everyday life.” However, communicating with young people can be a tricky. It takes the right combination of relevant content, storytelling, images, calls to action, and timing to be successful with millennials.

Here are some tips for communicating with Millennials:

  • Millennials expect their charitable organizations to provide them with sophisticated and inspiring stories that provide examples of the impact their support is having on your organization.
  • Give them access to and explain the metrics you use to measure the impact they and your organization are having. This helps Millennials verify that their support is worthwhile and will help turn these supporters into repeat donors, and get them involved in other ways (social media, volunteering, attending events, etc.).
  • Millennials don’t necessarily give like their parents. They are often much more interested in giving small amounts multiple times rather than giving one large amount once per year. Encouraging automatic recurring donations or multiple opportunities to help during the year may help keep them more engaged.

Next time you’re planning a fundraising appeal, think about how you might tailor your content specifically for younger donors vs. older donors. Segment your list to split people up by age (over 30 and under 30). Customize your content for the two donor groups based on their interests.

If younger people are more interested in a specific program or an impact story, include that content because it is more relevant to them. You can also include different CTAs in your emails depending on to contact’s age. You can also push them toward a smaller donation and give them the option of becoming a recurring donor.

Remember: young donors are more inclined to support an organization that inspires them. Strong and relevant content will do just that.


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