Reaching Diverse Donors Series: Engaging Younger Donors

Younger Donors

This is the first in a series on reaching donors from all walks of life to help you better engage your entire potential donor base. In future installments, we’ll talk about how to better appeal to other segments of donors. Today it’s all about millennials.

Young donors want to see their money work

For young donors, resources are limited: time, money, even their bandwidth for media. Young donors guard these resources wisely—they want to see the greatest possible impact for their contributions, or they won’t contribute at all.

* Offer specific projects or category designations for donations.

Let young donors control how their money is being used. They will feel like they’re making a difference, even if they can only manage a small donation.

* Show donors exactly how their donation is being spent (infographic or video anyone?).

Young donors want to know their money matters. Showcase what you’ve done with dollars donated, and what great results you’ve achieved in those specific areas.

Standing out from the crazy flooded cause crowd

Young donors are i-n-u-n-d-a-t-e- d with hard asks for charitable donations, especially on social media. The word out there is give, give, give! But for young donors, disposable income is more strained than that of older generations of donors. Tell them why your cause is so important and deserves their attention, and say it in a way that distinguishes you from the crowd.

* Speak to young donors in their language.

Don’t be afraid to be playful when engaging young donors, but stay results-driven.

Be frank with them, and get to the point—they’re bombarded with feel-good, fluffy messaging. Be the organization that tells it like it is with strong visuals.

* Appeal to reason, not emotion.

Right now every organization is trying to tug on young donors’ heart strings, and it gets tiring. Talk about the hard facts, the science, and the philosophy behind your work. Young donors have already faced hard economical times—they want the truth from you.

* Offer a back-stage pass.

Let donors see inside how your organization works and thinks. You don’t need to share everything, but share enough so donors feel like they are “in the club.” Trust has become a big issue with donating to non-profits. Be trustworthy and transparent.

* Get on the platforms young donors are using.

If you really want to engage donors, you’ll need to learn their platforms of choice: Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Young donors are hands-on and serious about helping

The common thing among young donors is the desire to be involved—especially when working on limited budgets, the amount they care and want to participate may not be matched by how much they can give.

A donor is a long-term investment—if these donors have a positive experience with your organization when they’re young, they’ll continue donating long into the future when they have more disposable income.

* Provide opportunities for young donors to get involved in other ways besides donating (such as volunteering and hosting their own local events such as a 5K).

This will nourish and foster a relationship that can bloom later in life.

* Offer hands-on experiences.

They may not have the funds to spare, but they care a lot about their causes, and they bring a youthful enthusiasm that can be a huge boon to your organization.

* Bring in young donors to important positions.

You need their insight and energy to grow as an organization, and to move forward with the next generation of major donors.

Most of all, treat young donors with the same care, attention and respect as older donors, because they will control your organization’s fate in the future.

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