5 Things Nonprofits Must Do To Captivate Millennials
Editor’s Note: I am so excited to have Rachael Seda on the IG Blog! She’s one of the most fun people I know (funnest?) both online and offline. Rachael grew up barefoot in Hawaii yet she’s always dreamed of traveling the world. She is a professed social media geek with a severe weakness for cheese. As an Account Executive at CRT/tanaka, a public relations and marketing agency, she gets to do what she loves everyday.
I have a short attention span, but I rock at multitasking. I may get bored easy but if you capture my attention, I could become your number one advocate (or worst nightmare). Please just cut to the chase, there’s no need for lengthy instructions; to me a picture’s worth a thousand words. At about 80 million strong, by 2017 these Americans, born between 1980-2000, will have more spending power than any other generation before us. You call me a millennial, but I prefer Rachael.
Like most non-profits, you probably realize that if your organization has any chance of succeeding well into the future, you need to captivate the millennial audience. Unfortunately, my generation isn’t as easy to fool and our attention is gained and lost in a matter of seconds. It’s hard to find us and it’s even harder to keep us.
The good news? Millennials are generous and we care about giving back. In fact a 2010 survey found that 93% of millennials said they gave to a cause.
What does this mean for non-profits? If you figure out the secret sauce to reaching us now, not only will you execute better fundraising campaigns, but you increase your chances of creating lifelong donors.
Here are 5 things you need to start doing if you want to captivate my fellow millennials:
1. Show Us You’re Tech Savvy
I hope this is a given, but if you’re avoiding social media and technology, you need to come out from under your shell ASAP. Go experiment personally. Sign up for a personal Twitter account, see what Pinterest is all about, and keep up with what’s new in the industry by reading social media blogs (like this one). But please act like a human. Be genuine. We don’t respond well to the fakes. And if you really want to understand millennials, you have to learn how to use a smart phone. We don’t know what life is without an iPhone in our hand, and of the 34 percent of us who make direct donations to causes, almost half donate using their mobile device. If you find us where we are, make it easy to give, and are genuine, we may just respond in your favor.
2. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
We don’t love Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest for no reason. The more simple and to the point you are, the more likely it is you haven’t lost our attention to the screaming zombies on The Walking Dead. Focus on making your information digestible, quotable, and shareable. I can’t think of a better example than Oxfam America’s (OA) International Women Day campaign that I worked on with Shonali Burke. OA had a clear call-to-action and a simple message; send an e-card to a woman in your life. In order to send one of the four inspiring e-cards all you needed to do was enter your email address. The end-goal was to secure as many new constituents to OA’s eCommunity as possible and so they could reach out to them and hopefully convert them into evangelists and donors. The result? OA secured 752 new constituents to its eCommunity via the eCards—a 288% increase compared to 261 in 2011.
3. Move Fast and Hit Hard
Millennials can send a picture of you sneezing to everyone they know (and don’t know) quicker than you can say “Excuse me.” We want info now and want to be intensely entertained and engaged. While we care about causes and giving back, we’re also accustomed to receiving immediate gratification. Creativity gets our attention. If you design a cause marketing campaign that is relevant, has a direct call-to-action, allows us to watch the impact occur in real time, and your responsive, we’ll be all over it!
4. Trigger Our Emotions
Think about what we care about. Hit our emotions. We respond to humor, are nostalgic and enjoy making (and capturing) memories. If you tug on our heartstrings (in a creative and genuine way), we’ll respond. We grew up with recycling engrained in us to the point where we feel guilty throwing a can in the dumpster. If you appeal to our emotions and create something shareable, we’ve been known to do your marketing for you.
5. Get Us Involved
We don’t just want to give away our money we want to feel like we’re part of the solution. We want to do something to help. How can you make your campaign interactive? How can you create “champions” for your cause? If you make it important to us, and make us feel involved in helping a worthy cause, we will get involved.
A recent campaign that’s bound to capture millennials is “Pinning for Pets” launched by BISSELL (a client at the agency, CRT/tanaka where I work). The Pinterest-based campaign is designed to raise funds for animal shelters around the U.S. For every Pinning for Pets board created and submitted (following these guidelines), the BISSELL Pet Foundation will donate $10 to the Petfinder Foundation. We’re already on Pinterest pinning cute animal pictures. You say I can help support a good cause at the same time? Count me in. If you give us millennials the opportunity to get involved and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Moral of the Story?
We’re an ambitious and compassionate group, undoubtedly shaped by the worst economic recession since the Great Depression and disasters such as 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. The result? A socially-conscious generation amplified by technology. Why not join us?
What other tips do you have to help non-profits reach millennials?