3 Ways to Raise Donations from Millennials

Author: Megan Radford
Posted: Jan 24, 2017

I’m newly 30. I’ve been married for 7 years. I can barely figure out how to use Snapchat. But, being born in 1986 puts me in the same category as those who never knew life without the Internet. Who got cell phones before they were in their double digits. Who have Snapscores of 60K+. I'm a Millennial!?!


So when tasked with getting millennials to donate to charity, where was I to begin? The millennial spectrum is so big. Within our own generation, we care about vastly different things. And we interact with technology very differently, too. I want my toilet paper on auto-order from Amazon. My younger coworker wants the cute guy she matched with on Bumble to add her on Instagram. We get it, we’re complicated.

So, what does millennial giving look like? Here are three tips to consider:

  1. Focus on impact.
    You’ve probably heard the phrase “Millennials don’t give to organizations – they support causes.” There has probably never been a truer phrase written about my generation, tbh. I. Do. Not. Care. About. Your. Organization. And if my married old lady self doesn’t care about your organization, then my Tinder-loving younger coworker sure as hell doesn’t either. We care about the cause. It hardly makes any difference to me WHO is providing disaster relief when a tornado destroys part of my beloved home state – I only care that it is happening (unless I’ve heard something bad about your organization, but that’s a blog for a different day). Therefore, to make sure millennials hear your messaging, it shouldn’t be focused on the great work your organization is doing. Instead, it should be focused on the impact being created. Sure, that impact is being created because of your organization – but that’s not the point. :)
  2. Develop a mobile app.
    An app can be an extremely effective strategy for millennial giving. According to comScore’s 2016 US Mobile App Report, “Smartphone app usage time increased among every age group in the past year and is highest among millennials.” Also from the report, 18-24-year olds spend an average of 93.5 hours per month on mobile apps, while 25-34-year olds still spend an impressive 85.6 hours per month. Keep in mind these numbers aren’t talking about mobile PHONE usage, but rather mobile APP usage in isolation. Also, according to @pay's Mobile Fundraising Statistics, mobile giving donations have increased 205% in the past year. Just remember that an app isn’t for everyone. You’ll need a sound strategy to develop and market it correctly. But the potential to increase donations, specifically from a millennial audience, is definitely there. And if you decide to take the app plunge, make sure social sharing is a supported feature. Younger millennials, in particular, don’t know a world without constant connectedness — make sure you give them the opportunity to easily tell their friends!
  3. Keep us updated.
    Millennials don’t want to send you money and cross their fingers that the donation did some good. They want to know it for a fact. So, you’ve got to keep us in the loop. Determining the frequency of these notifications depends on a number of things — how often you’re able to get reports with this type of data, how large your staff is (i.e., manpower), what tools you have available to you, etc. At a minimum, I recommend sending a quarterly update. And remember to keep tip #1 in mind here, too. Focus on impact. Instead of saying, “Our organization donated $1,000,000,” say, “Your contribution helped us donate $1,000,000 this quarter, which allowed X, Y and Z to happen.”

While we know it can be hard to reach the broad spectrum of millennials, there are (surprisingly) a few key things that bind us all together under our generational umbrella. Keep your eye out for those, and you’ll be on your way to securing a new target audience in no time!

(To learn more about VI's marketing services, click here)

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