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Study: What young donors respond to today

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Young people under age 35 want to give to charity – by donating either their money or their time.

young volunteers

But many nonprofit organizations are not approaching the huge Millennial generation correctly, according to The Millennial Impact Report, a new study by Achieve that all nonprofit leaders should read. More than 2,600 respondents, most college graduates, were surveyed in early 2013.

Young people are not interested in institutions or structures, the study found. They are interested in people, and they want to know how their contributions will help people.

The majority of Millennials give either time or money to up to five causes that they are passionate about. They may not give much – 40 percent give up to $50 and another 23 percent give up to $100. But 52 percent said they are interested in monthly giving.

Members of the Millennial generation are socially conscious and are passionate about their causes. They also see volunteer opportunities as a chance to socially connect with like-minded people.

The Importance of Your Website

The Millennial generation wants to learn about charities online – almost exclusively. And they want the information to be readable and easily accessible on their smartphones. Nonprofit organizations should think mobile first when trying to reach the younger generation.

Millennials are turned off when a charity’s website is outdated or the information is not presented in a way that interests them. Another of their major pet peeves is information that is missing or not available on mobile sites.

Young donors frequently act on impulse when they see a compelling message. How can nonprofits retool their websites to make them more appealing to younger donors?

The research recommends:

  • Simplify the message on the homepage. Limit wording and use large text. Make your message more succinct, focusing on how the charity helps people. This generation wants to know up front that their contribution matters … and what it will achieve.
  • Use a photo of someone being helped by the charity on the homepage. Show a success story.
  • Make it clear how to get involved with your organization – sign a petition, volunteer time, attend an event.
  • Be sure to include a way to donate on the homepage.
  • Make buttons large so they can be seen easily on a smartphone.

Sharing on Social Networks

Every nonprofit should have a Facebook page, as well as other social networking pages. If your messages are being shared, you will know that you are reaching your audience. Sharing on social networks is a form of advocacy.

Young donors support causes, not organizations, the research found. Post regularly on Facebook, and be sure to include images. Images are shared most often. The more you can inspire sharing, the greater the chance you have of capturing passion for your cause.

The following are actions taken by members of the Millennial generation based on a shared social media message:

    1. Liked, tweeted or shared post

    2. Signed a petition or pledge

    3. Made a donation

    4. Shared with their network a request for help

    5. Signed up to volunteer

    6. Purchased a ticket to an event

    7. Joined a committee

    8. Bought merchandise such as a t-shirt

Promotional Emails

Sending occasional emails with call-to-action information often brings results with the younger generation. At least half of those who receive emails requesting them to sign a petition, donate or share news have done so.

When they receive these emails, young donors want to receive meaningful information, such as a calendar of events, timely updates with links to full articles and success stories of the charity’s work, the study showed.

But nearly three-fourths of those surveyed said that nonprofits emailed too frequently, saying, “I always have something in my inbox from them.”

Overall, the Millennial generation will give when they feel inspired by the works of a nonprofit group. And when they give, they overwhelmingly want to give online, on their smartphone or in person at an event.

Many want to give their time as well as, or instead of, contributing money. If they do volunteer, they prefer to be trained online rather than through class work because of the time savings.

If your organization isn’t targeting young donors in a way that will reach them best, you should get on board soon. A passionate donor that supports your cause now could well become a champion for life.