Millennials are expected to make up approximately half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Much has been said about the rise of this new wave of young people. Some good, some bad, but the bottom line is clear. Nonprofits are not going to be able to reach the Millennial audience the same way they reached the Boomers, or even the GenXers.
Here are the Top 5 ways Millennials are changing the face of nonprofits:
- Millennials support causes; they do not give to organizations.
Typically we have encouraged people to give to our organization because it is “the right thing to do.” It is not enough to be a member any longer; there must be a reason behind what we are doing. Millennials will spend more money on a product if they know that product is helping kids in a third world country or (locally) supporting families in need in the community. They are called B corporations. Sell your benevolence more than your “bang for the buck”.
- Millennials are looking for a different way to network.
Millennials are not into networking just to share a business card. If you give them the opportunity to partner, they will take it. Millennials don’t want to sit through long meetings, they want to try things out. Connection and collaboration is king. The Journal of Business and Psychology showed volunteerism up almost three times in Millennials. Service for good is the way to network.
- Millennials are connected, now more than ever.
Millennials have always had cell phones, high-speed Internet and iPads; they have not used DOS, fax machines, rotary dial phones. So we can’t fault them for not responding to those mediums. Chances are they will have their phone out, but that does not mean they are not paying attention. They may be sharing the data you are sharing with them. We have to utilize social now more than ever. 88% get their news from Facebook. You will not reach Millennials with mailers, plus email use is limited too. Connect via text message, Emojis, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, create Facebook Groups, DM (direct messaging) on your social platforms to communicate. By all means, pay to boost your important social media posts to specific audiences (make a line item for it in your budget).
- Millennials are used to instant.
Millennials pay online, from their phone (your website MUST be mobile responsive), click to pay from your Facebook page. The fewer clicks and more auto draft options, the better your bottom line will be. Paperless is essential! It is not enough to just have a PDF of your membership application on your site (they won’t print it). No more ten page (one sided) membership packets. Response time is critical. Moreover, have someone in your organization ready to respond, fast.
- Efficiency is critical.
Your workflow and office structure may need the training to accommodate this new way of connection. Just like learning a new computer program like a Weblink, or ChamberMaster you need to know how to use these new social platforms and address the needs of this new demographic. Ask for their input often.
Truth is, every generation that has come before has changed the game so to speak. Every generation brought its own way of thinking, its own brand of marketing and its own style of leadership. The sooner we see that there really never was a one sized fits all method, but rather an adjustment period for every new generation, the sooner we will stop looking down on Millennials and start looking for ways to connect, seeing that change is inevitable and that we can’t ignore it.
Mark Sturgell says
Well done, Randall. I was expecting another “here’s whats wrong with Millennials” article. I think they are the right generation at the right time, for the things you list and more. In fact, I consider them to be the “Next Great Generation” (after WW2). I have millennial sons and I am amazed at the attitudes, actions and early achievements of them and their peers. I coordinate our young professionals group (and they don’t even call me “grandpa”) and, frankly, surround myself with this age group daily. Why? Because, too often, I find them more interesting, more value-driven, more on-purpose, and more active than my own generation.
Tim Chas says
Great article Randall. Always helpful to hear your insight.