Is your non-profit organization ready for Millennial donors?


While it is well established that Baby Boomer donors currently are in the prime charitable giving years, the fact of the matter is Millennial donors are becoming a force with which non-profits must reckon. So, I’ve asked Zach Hagopian from Accelevents to weigh-in with his suggestions on how your organization should start thinking about acquisition and retention of this new powerhouse generation of philanthripists. I think you will like his four suggestions. Here’s to your health!  ~Erik


4 Ways to Acquire and Retain Millennial Donors

By Zach Hagopian
Co-founder & COO of Accelevents

millennialIs your nonprofit organization trying to break into the millennial space in order acquire and retain more millennial donors?

In this post, I am going to outline some of our most useful tips for both acquiring and retaining millennial donors.

But first, let’s discuss why millennial donors are so valuable…

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, a whopping 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014. Long gone are the days of assuming millennials are a predominantly selfish group of consumers.

While we can all agree that capturing millennial donors is immensely valuable for your nonprofit organization (or just for your annual fundraising event), many NPOs and fundraisers struggle to acquire and retain these donors.

Here are four of my best tips for acquiring and retaining millennial donors.

1. Get Personal

Our first tip is to get personal with your potential donors – tell the story of your cause and how it personally relates to your experience.

While inclined to donate, millennials constantly seek stories that they can identify with. Affinity in values and social responsibility are extremely important, when it comes to the restaurants millennials eat at, the stores they shop at, and even the organizations they donate to.

Conveying your story in a meaningful way will get you in the door with millennials, and the rest will be history (if you follow our next three steps…)!

2. Utilize Technology

One thing that we can all agree on is that millennials are very connected.

Whether we are checking our iPhones every 30 seconds, or sneaking a look at our Facebook news feed during a conference call, we millennials have the means to find and share any information instantly.

And fundraisers / nonprofits should be using this to their advantage!

In today’s world, millennials are willing to donate to charitable causes, but they desire to do so on their terms, which means embracing easy-to-use, flexible, and accessible donation tools. For the most part, this entails making the switch from traditional means to online and mobile enabled platforms.

These tools can be anything from donation pages to mobile silent auctions and raffles and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.

Regardless of the tools you decide to move forward with, embracing technology will allow you to offer millennials a much easier channel for them to donate whenever they’d like.

3. Embrace FOMO

Our next tip if for your organization to embrace one of the strongest emotions felt among millennials – THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT (aka “FOMO”).

When used with online and social fundraising methods, FOMO can become one of your best tools for millennial acquisition AND retention.

The key here is to hold your donors socially accountable. Did your supporters just buy a ticket to your next fundraising event? Has one of your donors just made a donation to support your cause? Provide them a means to share this to their social network!

When your donors share updates about your cause, the benefits here are twofold:

  1. Acquisition – Other millennials will witness all of the passion and excitement around supporting your cause, and will flock to join. Just like that, you’ve acquired new millennial donors.
  2. Retention – Your current supporters may not have returned to support your cause for a second time. FOMO comes to the rescue, reminding them that they too should be joining in the excitement of helping a great cause.

4. Show Your Appreciation (with a twist!)

While our final tip applies to donors of all ages, it is still extremely important for your millennial donors. As most people do, millennials appreciate being acknowledged for their support and contribution to your cause.

Traditional methods of thanking your millennial donors work great, but your thank-yous are even more effective when you can add a twist!

Some of our favorite examples of unique acknowledgements for millennials include:

  • Donor Spotlights – Has one of your donors (or a group of donors) gone above and beyond in their support of your cause? If so, create a nice piece of content on their story, and share this out to your audience. Not only will the highlighted donor(s) feel appreciated, but your other supporters will see the lengths that your team goes to, in order to acknowledge your donors
  • Create a Sizzle Reel Did you just wrap up a great fundraising event or have your best year in terms of donations? Spend some resources to create a great video or “sizzle reel” to share with your audience. An exciting video will stand out against the hundreds of emails your audience receives each day, and it’s also a great piece of content for your donors to share out to their networks!

About the Author

Zach HagopianZach Hagopian is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding.  An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.

As a Millennial living in Boston with strong ties to the Boston fundraising community, Zach most recently spent the past two years organizing a fundraiser geared almost completely to millennial donors. In his first year, they attracted 850 guests to their event and raised over $65,000 for the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In year two, they raised $108,000 from over 1,000 Boston-area millennials and young professionals.

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on April 5, 2016, in Fundraising, nonprofit, philanthropy, resource development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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