Why Many Nonprofits are Struggling to Reach the Millennial Donor

Alessandra Madrid 02/19/2015

Despite having a reputation for being entitled and self-absorbed, most Millennials want to make the world a better place and are committed to giving back. According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, which surveyed more than 1,500 employed Millennials, 87 percent had donated money toward a nonprofit within the last year, with the majority giving more than $100. Having grown up with the boom of the Internet and social networks, which have made our world smaller, Millennials tend to favor socially conscious, globally-minded causes that promote civil rights, good business practices and environmental protection, among other global issues.

We will admit, Millennials are a complicated group. However, despite having all of this background knowledge on Millennials and their beliefs, why are many nonprofits still struggling to capture donations from Gen-Yers?

Not all Millennials Are Created Equal

Nonprofits have not completely understood who millennials are. There are around 80 million Millenials--those born between 1980 and the early 2000s. It is safe to say that Millennials born in 1991, those who are currently at the beginning stages of their career will not have the same interests as the 1980 millennial who is starting to get settled.

Although they both grew up with the internet and are passionate about social change, the type of messaging and communication they prefer is quite different. A “90s kid” would possibly be more likely to donate their time helping you fundraise than simply donate a high amount of money to your cause. However, by capturing their passion for your organization at an early stage you can turn this supporter into a future loyal donors. This applies for the older millennial as well, they might not be able to donate large amounts of time but they will be able to donate a higher amount of money for your nonprofit.

Learn How They Get Involved

Millennials treat their time, money, and assets as having equal value. This generation grew up in the era of the internet and search engines, therefore, they are used to having options of being able to search for options. When talking to your Millennial donor, give them the options available to support your organization; whether it’s time, money or both! If your organization doesn’t provide the different alternatives, they will be likely to search for one that does have options.

Understand How They Connect

Millennials are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers. They also want to experience the cause’s work without having to be on-site. With this in mind, your nonprofit needs to not only stay in touch with your Millennial donors after they have either donated time or money, but you must also provide them with the tools and content that will allow them to experience the cause. Provide your Millennial donor with sharable content, this in turn will allow them to experience the continued work of your nonprofit but it will also allow them to share it with their peers. Take advantage of their social networking power as this may influence other potential millennial donors to support your cause.

Know How They Give

Millennials grew up with notion instant gratification, if they want to watch a movie they do not have to run down to Blockbuster and rent it out (#RIPBlockbuster), they can simply download it on their computer or tablet. A similar concept applies to how the donate; Millennials give when they are inspired to give. Therefore it is important that if your nonprofit is communicating with Millennials online (if you are not doing this, you absolutely should), then your nonproprofit must have the proper tools in place for them to be able to donate online.

Remember, that most of Millennials are accessing e-mail, social media and websites via their smartphone, therefore your online donation processing software and website should be properly optimized for mobile.

By the year 2020, Millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce. They have already begun to alter consumerism, as well as the traditional office environment. Likewise, they will be a powerful force that alters giving. Those legacy donors won't be sending in those paper checks forever, so now is the time to build up your network of millennial supporters.