Turning Millennials into Donors

Actionable tips and methods for nonprofits looking to reach and engage millennials as active donors

Millennials--the generation rapidly changing the way we eat, work, exercise, shop, and now, the way we give. Characterized as the generation born between 1980 and 2000, millennials today range from the ages 18 to 38. With millennials now making up the largest portion of the population, it is imperative that nonprofits begin engaging and securing them as donors. But despite making up more than a quarter of the population, millennials account for only 11% of charitable giving.

This may come as a surprise, but millennials have really good intentions. Often referred to as the purpose-driven generation, millennials care about doing social good and yearn to make an impact on the world around them. But there’s a problem--according Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving study, only 25% of millennials believe that monetary giving is the best way to make a difference with charitable organizations.

So how can you, as a nonprofit, turn well-meaning, “I’m-going-to-save-the-world” millennials into tangible donors? And even better--how can you turn them into recurring donors? In this guide, I cover seven approaches that will help your nonprofit both involve and capture the millennial generation.

Chapter 3: 4 Methods of Transparency that Millennials Love

Millennials are very willing to give, but they are also very specific about where they give. They don’t simply want to throw their money into the dark abyss of “charity” but want to know that their funds are actually contributing to your cause--not your office water cooler or your CEO’s salary (even though you need to fund that too). Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving Study found that nearly 60% of millennials cited the ability to see the direct impact of their donation as being critical in their decision process.

Use these 4 methods to increase your transparency:
  • Create a way for donors to fund specific projects. Donors--especially millennials--are more likely to donate when they can see the specific goal or project they are funding. Kiva, a nonprofit that provides individuals in developing countries with micro-loans, has this method down to a tee. Donors are able to choose a category, browse through and learn about individuals and their needs, and finally select who they would like to fund. International Justice Mission, on the other hand, breaks down donation sizes and explains what each increment would accomplish (see photo).
  • Earn a GuideStar Seal of Transparency to display on your website. It takes less than 15 minutes and reassures potential donors that you are transparent and honest about where your money is going.
  • Post an annual report that outlines your fundraising and spending within the past year--and do it in an aesthetic and easy-to-read way. Check out this pie chart the Dressember Foundation featured in their annual report that breaks down where their money went:
  • Tell stories. Millennials love stories. Why do you think the top brands have shifted to story-based marketing? Stories appeal to emotion and are one of the most effective ways to show your donors the impact their contributions are making. Highlight the impact your organization has with a story of a specific individual or a community. Videos are generally the best way to do this but you also can’t go wrong with a well-written blog post.

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Now I’ll turn it over to you. What do you think of this guide? Is there anything I missed or you want to see covered? Please send me your thoughts at laura@flourishchange.com.

Laura Soundy

Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Laura graduated from Baylor University and joined our team in June, 2018. Throughout her college career, she planned and directed multiple fundraising events that raised thousands of dollars for the organizations she was involved with. Outside of the office, Laura loves to compete in sports, play piano, and spend time with friends. She plans to eventually pursue a law degree and continue to work in the nonprofit space.

Flourish began with a simple question:
How can people of all ages — particularly the younger generation — give to and engage with the organizations, and causes, they care about?

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