Why Nonprofits Should Care About Millennials


By Capalino Associate Vice President Safeena Mecklai

Why Nonprofits Should Care About Millennials safeena mecklai CapalinoIn 2016, the total number of millennials living in the United States was 75.4 million, a population that is predicted to peak at 81.1 million in 2036 and comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020.

Research shows that engaging with millennials is key to the success of nonprofits, despite that the generation is often labeled “apathetic.” Achieve partnered with The Case Foundation to release “Cause, Influence & the Workplace,” a report on the impact of millennials in the workforce across the past five years. Broadly, the report notes that the size and force of millennials, combined with social media and pivotal world events of the past five years, require nonprofits to develop new ways of engaging audiences lest they risk being left behind as preferences for cause engagement change.

According to the report, millennials have an intrinsic desire to engage with nonprofits. In particular, the survey respondents were more likely to dedicate time or money to an organization that inspired them or one they felt was making a positive impact on the world. Peer-to-peer engagement encourages millennial giving, though when they do give, millennials often do in modest amounts to multiple organizations.

Data from the survey also shows that millennials are most likely to learn about and donate to causes through digital platforms. Despite the popularity of social networks, it’s an important insight that in 2014, 93% of millennials learned about a company’s cause through its website.

So what does this mean for your nonprofit?

Below are some suggestions on how nonprofits can best engage millennials through digital platforms to further their missions.

  1. Leverage video and photos to tell your story. Storytelling through these media is an easy way to connect with people’s desire to create positive change through their action.
  2. Consider targeting your posts during the holidays to the audiences that most engage with your work. Use tools like digital analytics to understand your audience, what they like and what causes them to donate in order to create content that meets their interests.
  3. Look to tools like Google Ads and Analytics to ensure that your nonprofit is rising to the top of search results when audiences are actively seeking you out your organization may be left out as people Google terms like “health organizations,” “homelessness organizations” or “donate to hungry New Yorkers.”
  4. Make it easy for millennials to donate in small amounts and share their donation with friends. Tools like SalsaLabs, PayPal and Razoo integrate with your website to facilitate these donations.
  5. Consider pairing your donation opportunities with opportunities to volunteer. Millennials seek out ways to use and develop their skills in a way that benefits nonprofit organizations. Create a database of interested skills-based volunteers to maximize your resources.

Over time, millennial interest is moving from cursory learning to activism. This desire for activism will only grow as the generation expands and ages. Nonprofits must take advantage of this knowledge and alter their models of giving. By doing so, your organization will be in a better position to create change.

Safeena Mecklai - Capalino MWBE

Safeena Mecklai, Capalino

Safeena Mecklai is an Associate Vice President with Capalino. She leads the firm’s digital strategy efforts and advises nonprofits on how to leverage digital tools to expand their impact. Contact Safeena to learn more about our digital services for nonprofits here.

Safeena is also a member of the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Practice. To learn more about how we can help your company create a social responsibility agenda that impacts the communities in which you do business, click here. 

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