Jake Croman | How Charities Can Appeal to Millennials
How Charities Can Appeal To
J A K E C R O M A N
As consumers and trendsetters, young people born in the 1980s and 90s have
tremendous influencing power. And along with rethinking workplace culture and
values, millennials are now reimagining charitable giving in the 21st century...
While millennials are passionate
about helping people and improving
society, they have little interest in
emulating the giving patterns
modeled by their parents and
grandparents. They want to give,
sure, but it’s not like any organization
will do. More than baby boomers,
millennials value authenticity and
the ability to engage directly with
their charity of choice.
The sheer size of our millennial generation makes us an increasingly influential demographic.
And in the years ahead, the nonprofit sector is likely to cater to the tastes and preferences of
this demographic. My millennial peers and I wield lots of trendsetting power.
Though 18- to 32-year-olds
represent just 11 percent of
total charitable giving,
stand to benefit from
cultivating ties with this age
group. Considering that 80
million millennials will enter
adulthood in the coming years,
nonprofits feel a growing
urgency to build ties with these
young people. Among nonprofit
organizations, knowing how
and where millennials want to
spend their surplus income is
going to be critical.
In the spirit of working together and
creating change, let’s take a closer look
at millennial giving. Here’s how charities
can get millennials to support their cause:
Leveraging Social Media +
Whether we’re keeping in touch with friends or researching nonprofits, millennials demand
tech-centric approaches to everything we do. This mindset extends to charitable giving, as
millennials prefer using social media and online platforms in supporting charitable causes.
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow nonprofit organizations to
engage millennial supporters in an ongoing dialogue around the clock.
Social media can also be used by charitable organizations to
appeal to millennial values and personify their organization’s branding.
Because young people expect to do our charitable giving online, we are
more likely to donate to organizations whose websites and social platforms
exhibit sleek web design and high UI/UX functionality.
Also, mobile-friendly websites are a must.
Causes, Not Institutions
When Millennials check a nonprofit’s website, we look for information about what an
organization does and how donations are used.
In other words: we want to see tangible results.
Unlike baby boomers, millennials aren’t as attached to specific organizations or brand
names. Institutional pedigree doesn’t impress them. Rather, we feel connected to certain
causes and are passionate about helping people and making a difference. We want
nonprofits to show us concrete evidence that our support has an impact. We like having
regular updates about successful charity projects and campaigns.
We want to know who we have helped.
Transparency + Accountability
In that same vein, millennials expect transparency and accountability from the
organizations we support.
This expectation is only logical: with less disposable income to spare than our
parents, millennials want to ensure our hard-earned dollars have an actual,
Survey trends cited in the New York Times corroborate this fact. “Millennials expect
transparency, sophisticated storytelling and technical savvy from their charitable
organizations,” says Nicholas Fandos. "Causes matter more than institutions.”
Rather than writing checks, millennials prefer to support charities through active
participation. More than donating money, millennial donors seek opportunities to
volunteer and leverage their own networks in supporting causes they believe in.
Digital brands like Charity: Water and Warby Parker have an advantage in this regard,
as these organizations are designed as digital fundraising efforts and social impact
companies. They appeal to millennials’ need for simplicity, access to information, and
Corporate Responsibility +
While we recognize that governments and charities do important work, millennials realize
that nonprofits lack the technological prowess and resources of the private sector.
We see far more potential to have an impact through supporting private-public partnerships
(PPP) and social impact investing.
“Major companies are paying attention to millennials’ interest in corporate philanthropy,”
Fortune notes, citing efforts like a Goldman Sachs fund that awards grants to nonprofits
based on recommendations from millennial employees.
Commitment to Environment
We are living in a time when ethical and sustainable products are king.
“From involvement with charities and nonprofits to spreading awareness about key
environmental concerns,” an overwhelming number of millennials value sustainability and
environmental justice. Numerous studies have shown millennials are willing to pay more for
sustainable products. These statistics are worth noting for organizations looking to attract
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