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How Millennials are Changing Philanthropy

Millennials are known for being the generation of movers and shakers. As much as the media likes to rag on them for their ability to kill every industry they touch, there is a grain of truth in that Millennials are redefining the way we do business. As they become the largest demographic in the American […]

How Millennials are Changing Philanthropy by Alexander Neumeister
How Millennials are Changing Philanthropy by Alexander Neumeister

Millennials are known for being the generation of movers and shakers. As much as the media likes to rag on them for their ability to kill every industry they touch, there is a grain of truth in that Millennials are redefining the way we do business. As they become the largest demographic in the American workforce by 2020, it is no wonder that their influence is growing. Statistics from the Pew Research Center in 2018 showed that Millennials made up about one -third of the workforce, a number that is likely to have grown by now. 

They’re known for being an increasingly plugged-in generation, tech-savvy and saddled by debt, and with that comes a number of cultural changes. Forbes writes of them as “distracted, multitasking, and frustrated by the status quo,” but as this generation matures, they become more grounded and predictable, though in quite a different way compared to their forebears. What this means for businesses, the charitable and nonprofit sectors included, is that they need to reevaluate the ways that they are trying to reach their next influential audience. 

They’re not nearly as selfish as they’re made out to be: the Case Foundation’s Millennial Impact Report of 2015 showed that 84 percent of Millennials gave to charity the previous year. While they still gave less in terms of dollar amounts compared to boomers and Gen Xers, it’s important to remember that on the whole, Millennials often make less than their counterparts and tend to be riddled by student debt. Furthermore, they’re proving to be one of the most generous generations to date. The reasons for this are many; growing up in a highly digital era, individuals can easily share and learn about various issues and thus build community. With the ease of sharing, there followed the ease of giving. 

So how do you engage with Millennials? One way is to ask them for more than money. Their generosity extends to their time, so they are likely to volunteer to fundraise, crowdfund, and do fieldwork for your organization. This interaction can be a key part in cultivating your long-term relationship with your donor base. Another strategy is to use storytelling. Millennials are bombarded with thousands of messages each day, and stories are more personal and motivating than just facts. Telling a story is a great way to get your cause to resonate with your audience. Third, keep your message simple. It’s easy to overcomplicate your message, but millennials know that the issue you’re trying to tackle is complicated and nuanced. Keep it simple, repeatable, and, even better, tweetable. 

This post originally appeared on AlexanderNeumeister.org

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