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What is your nonprofit doing right now to attract my money? As a 20-something, I have encountered few nonprofits that reach out in a meaningful way for my charitable dollars. Understandably, most nonprofits (and probably yours) design fundraising campaigns for my parents and grandparents knowing that they indeed have more charitable dollars than I do. But I would argue, Generation Y or “millennials”, those born in the 80’s and 90’s, are poised to be the next big thing in charitable giving. Establishing relationships with millennials today can yield immediate results and is absolutely vital to the long-term success of your nonprofit.
Going after the charitable dollars of millennials may seem like “small fish,” but keep this in mind, millennials are now the largest generation in terms of population. Today, there are 79 million millennials in the US, compared to 76 million boomers. Additionally, as my generation moves out of their dorm rooms (or, more aptly, into their parent’s homes) and into the professional world, we will quickly have the kind of incomes that merit your nonprofit’s attention.
Besides being a large group, millennials have been well researched in terms of cultural trends, beliefs and the like, but the area of charitable giving has not had a lot of attention. That is starting to change, and one of the best sources of millennials and their charitable involvement has come from The Millennial Impact, a joint project between Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle Associates. The 2012 report has some very encouraging results, and helps give shape to a demographic you probably are not currently attracting in a meaningful way.
Here are a few things to consider when targeting millennials for your nonprofit:
These suggestions are some great places to start, but your plan to include millennials can’t stop here. A new demographic is opening up, and you need to take advantage of it. If you have a mission that is relatable to young people, you could be poised to have a pretty powerful force on your side. Even if they don’t have money (yet), they will donate volunteer hours and they will enlist their friends.
Ultimately, if you only want millennials to be a part of your nonprofit simply because they are a large part of the population, because they have disposable income, or because they have a lot of volunteer hours to give, it’s not going to happen. You need to appeal to them as important members of your organization. Stir the passion that is already in their heart to change the world, and you will be ahead of the curve.
Lars Ward is a graduate student in the Lodestar Center's Master of Nonprofit Studies program at Arizona State University. Lars currently works for the ASU Lodestar Center as a Research Aid, helping manage the AzGates platform, a free grant resourcing tool for Arizona nonprofits.
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Click here to read Susie Brown's "Vital Fundraising Skill - The Power of Story Time."