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7 Ways for Nonprofits to Engage and Retain Millennial Donors

Millennials are a tech-savvy generation. They use ad blockers, make mobile payments, and have seamlessly integrated social media into their everyday lives…

Technology is at the forefront for millennials, thus it’s important for nonprofits to stay updated on the latest trends. Implementing new technology and tactics for your nonprofit can feel overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to buy fancy AI software to keep your millennial donors happy, you just have to meet them where they’re at. Once you know what they’re spending their time on, you can entice them to become active with your nonprofit (engagement). In addition, you’ll want to offer them an effortless experience that makes them want to come back (retainment). In other words, providing easy engagement for your millennial donors will result in higher retention for your nonprofit. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. 


Mobile Optimization for Nonprofits

Is your website mobile-friendly? Millennials often browse the web with their phone rather than on a computer, so it’s vital to have your website optimized for multiple platforms (i.e. tablet and phone). Mobile-friendly sites should have a responsive design to any given platform, allowing for easy access and navigation on their end. It also makes fundraising easier for you, as millennial donors can easily opt-in for automatic text message notifications about a current fundraiser via the mobile-friendly site. 

The goal is to allow them to make a donation with just one click from their phone. If your webpage is not mobile-friendly, the process to donate could become frustrating. 


Shareable Social Media Content 

Social media is a must when targeting millennial donors. Facebook remains the most used social media platform to date, as 83% of millennials continue to use it on a daily basis. A percentage that high demands attention from nonprofits, and copying/pasting ads just won’t cut it anymore. It’s important to post content on social media that millennials want to share with their network of friends and family. For example, inspiring posts, such as an animal shelter video on Facebook, can gain thousands of views in just a day due to people sharing the content to others. Get your millennial donors engaged with your nonprofit by posting content they can’t resist sharing.

Fear of Feeling Left Out.
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Millennial feeling left out.

Embrace FOMO

FOMO” stands for fear of missing out, and it’s the strongest emotion felt among millennials. Remember the A.L.S. challenge? That’s what FOMO is all about: doing something in fear of missing out…and if done right, it works wonders. Supporters raised over $115 million for A.L.S. Now, we’re not saying to start another ice bucket challenge, but it is a psychological phenomenon that nonprofits can incorporate when trying to engage millennial donors. A quick and easy method is to show people on your website who have donated. If a millennial sees a long list of people who have donated to your nonprofit, they’ll be more likely to pitch in. 


Return Your Appreciation 

Nonprofits rely heavily on donors, so it’s important to return your appreciation. A specialized way of saying “thank you” is a great way to retain your millennial donors.  

For example, a sizzle reel can easily break through the clutter. Make a fun video of a recent event that donors went to and attach it to the email. Come up with an enticing subject line that lets them know they’re in the video so they’ll click on it. Allow options to share it with friends and family. Millennials want people to know what they’ve been up to, so providing them with an easy means of sharing it is also important. 

Another idea for appreciation is donor spotlights. Select some millennial donors who go above and beyond and highlight them on your website. Again, this generation appreciates being recognized. 


Communication is Key

As a nonprofit, it’s important to keep your donors happy. If millennials have a bad experience, they’ll make sure they are heard one way or another. They can quickly damage a company or nonprofit’s reputation by posting poor reviews on social media. Providing them several means for feedback can potentially avoid a social media disaster. 

One way of doing this is by conducting surveys. Surveys will give you an overall idea of how your donors are experiencing your nonprofit. It also allows millennial donors to feel heard, which is something this generation values. Simple yes/no questions can provide sufficient feedback, allowing you to make adjustments from there. 


Subscription Service

Rather than paying hefy checks once a year, millennials are paying small checks each month. Online subscriptions have become overwhelmingly popular in recent years, (i.e. Netflix and Spotify just to name a few). As a nonprofit organization, you can tap into this “subscription economy” too. In fact, people who set up an annual plan give 42% more compared to one-time donors. Add a tab on your site that allows donors to sign up for a monthly plan. Having your millennial donors subscribe to a plan is an easy way for long-time retention. 

7 ways to for nonprofits to engage millenials
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“will give you time first, and then they’ll write their check.”



Alternative donations

Finally, offering an alternative donation option is a great way to involve millennial donors. On a previous episode of KC Cares 337, according to Katie Lord, from the nonprofit Byrne Pelofsky, millennials “will give you time first, and then they’ll write their check.” In other words, if you want to keep your millennial donors engaged with your non-profit, make sure your nonprofit has alternative donation options, such as volunteer work in a garden or using GoFundMe alternatives. 


Thirsty for more information about giving? Check out the annual U.S. charitable report here