Engaging Millennials In Your Cause: Three Times the Work, Three Times the Reward

In reading this New York Times article about engaging Millennials in your cause, one paragraph caught my marketing eye:

Millennials expect transparency, sophisticated storytelling and technical savvy from their charitable organizations. And many donors will not only give money, but will also volunteer and lend the force of their own social networks to a cause they believe in.

If your audience includes the Millennials, the largest generation in American history, you need to attend to three ways that their expectations of charitable causes differs from older generations. In return, you could get triple the engagement.

What Motivates Millennials to Support Your Cause?

One nonprofit quoted in the New York Times article finds that Millennials respond to urgency, simplicity, and gratification. These are great qualities to consider when promoting your cause. On the other hand, I don’t think that they make Millennials vastly different from other age groups.

I worry about constantly emphasizing urgency in your promotional messaging. That seems likely to create donor fatigue in the long run. It may also hurt your brand‘s credibility, if audiences perceive you as constantly sounding alarms.

To complement urgency, I would emphasis the critical or even transformative impact your organization has on client’s lives. Stressing impact along with urgency contributes to more compelling promotion.

What Millennials Expect From Your Cause

Once you’ve started engaging Millennials in your cause through urgency and impact, you need to meet their expectations. Organizational narrative, technical savvy, and transparency may not be current strengths of your organization, but they need to be if you’re working with Millennials.

Beyond establishing credibility and building community, organizational narrative supplies urgency and impact. Stories that you need to be telling with your organizational narrative include your origin story, your vision, and your impact on clients. Battling theĀ villains of the social good definitely gets the philanthropic blood pumping in Millennials. Defeating those villains brings gratification.

(If you want to know more about organizational narrative, download my free ebook.)

Millennials are accustomed to a level of technical sophistication and interaction throughout their lives. They don’t want that to end when it comes to supporting your cause. Your organization needs to be technical savvy to fit into the Millennial world. This means offering e-commerce for purchases and donations, social media accounts to follow, and using technology to serve your clients. Your technical savvy needs to extend to reaching Millennials on their mobile devices, too.

From student loans to the Great Recession, Millennials have often gotten screwed by the financial sector. Transparency from your organization helps win their trust and engagement. Transparency includes making your 990 forms and other disclosure documents easy to find, maintaining current and accurate profiles on sites like Guidestar, being honest and interactive in social media, and even publishing annual reports.

When Millennials find an organization they trust whose vision they share, then they start to feel gratification.

How Millennials Engage in Causes They Support

Millennials go all-in for causes they support. As this Forbes article states:

Rather than making random or one-off donations, [Millennials] are a generation characterized by integrating the causes they care about into their daily routines and purchase behaviors.

This integrated approach to supporting causes has three components:

  • Money: Millennials will give money, even when faced with the stagnant wages and high student loan debt that characterize their generation.
  • Time: Millennials want to give their time and skills. It’s part of the community and interactivity that they crave.
  • Networks: Millennials who support your cause will tell others about it. Word of mouth is powerful promotion.

For marketers like you, the implications are clear for engaging Millennials in your cause:

  • Build promotional strategies based on your organizational narrative.
  • Make giving easy through your technically savvy e-commerce tools.
  • Design compelling service interactions to attract, retain, and motivate Millennial volunteers.
  • Interact with Millennials through social media. Building a social media calendar is a good place to start.

Need help reaching Millennials? My marketing services help you build the foundation for sustained promotion that motivates your audiences.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

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