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Engaging the New "Giving Generation"

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The millennial reputation includes a lot of things: they’ve been classified the “me me me” generation, the generation who grew up with helicopter parents, and the generation who demands work-life balance, among other things. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of these labels, there’s one millennial label that studies support, and nonprofits aren’t taking full advantage of: the giving generation.

According to a recent World Vision survey, only 7% of people think that millennials are more generous than the previous generation - however, 57% of millennial men have given a charitable gift, compared to 36% of older men. In this case, there is a huge gap between perception and reality.

What I’m trying to say is: don’t write off millennials. It’s time to engage millennials and gain their support - on their terms. Here’s how:

1. Ask for time directly

Although millennials volunteer their time for causes they care about at a lower rate than other generations, studies show they’re much more likely to do it when asked directly or by a friend. So hop on social media and ask your followers to volunteer. When you meet millennial supporters at events, be direct in asking for their time. And don’t forget to sell millennials on the ability to take ownership of their work - that’s sure to hit home with this generation.

2. Try crowdfunding

Millennials don’t write checks. In fact, studies show that millennials would much rather do everything online - including make donations. According to Fundly, a popular crowdfunding tool used by nonprofit organizations, 77% of its donations come from supporters 44 and younger. Crowdfunding is an easy way to reach millennials because you’re not asking for a large donation, rather, small donations from a larger amount of people. This strategy also allows millennials to support more of the causes they care about.

3. Show them what they’re buying

As I just pointed out, it can be hard to get millennial donors to write a check - especially when they don’t know exactly where it’s going. Solve this problem by implementing a giving registry. Just like the registry you may have created (or will create) for marriage or birth of a child, your organization can register, too. Create a list of items necessary to keep your organization’s mission moving forward and post them online with a dollar amount - much like Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin did here.

Has your organization found success engaging millennials? Leave a comment below or email me at to discuss how Okanjo can help.

About the Author

Brendon Thomas Brendon Thomas

The preceding is a guest post by Brendon Thomas, the president of Okanjo, a Cloud Commerce solutions company that activates audiences to do good. Under Brendon’s direction, Okanjo has given back to over 400 nonprofit organizations, and that number is rapidly growing. In his free time, Brendon is actively involved in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s vibrant local tech community.

Topics: Charitable Giving