How Nonprofits Can Reach Gen Y


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A text-heavy deck that will give you ideas on how to get your message right when you're going after Generation Y, specifically if you're a nonprofit.

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How Nonprofits Can Reach Gen Y

  1. 1. The Fountain of Youth Communicating with the Next Generation November 17, 2008 Sam Davidson, President and Co-Founder,
  2. 2. Are you in unfamiliar territory? <ul><li>When figuring out who you’d like to talk to, it helps to understand their world. How would you answer the following questions? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How long were you online last week? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you blog? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you share files? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which is better: MySpace or Facebook? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How you answer (or even whether or not you understand what these questions are asking) can give you a good idea of what tools and strategies you might need in order to communicate with the next generation. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Who is the next generation? <ul><li>A group of people known as Generation Y (because they come chronologically after Generation X) </li></ul><ul><li>Also known as Millennials , since they came of age near or during the turn of the millennium </li></ul><ul><li>For the most part, they were born after 1980 </li></ul><ul><li>They number approximately 76 million (nearly as big as the Baby Boomers) </li></ul><ul><li>Four key characteristics shape their behavior: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life/Work Balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engagement </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Collaboration <ul><li>This is the first generation that grew up in schools that valued collaboration . As such, they worked on science projects in groups, and much of their class work was done in a group setting. </li></ul><ul><li>This generation played Little League and youth soccer by the millions. They were nearly always part of a team (and everyone always got a trophy). </li></ul><ul><li>They went to the prom in a big group. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, this generation is used to working together on any number of tasks or issues, both recreationally and professionally. </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofits can take advantage of this by designing opportunities that allow the next generation to collaborate in order to do good. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Access <ul><li>This generation has always been able to access people and information. </li></ul><ul><li>People </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They got cell phones at younger ages than any previous generation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As such, they could contact both parents and friends quickly and effortlessly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They have also come of age in a world of instant messaging (IM) and email, allowing them to communicate digitally with anyone. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They’ve always known the 24-hour news cycle. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They’ve seen world events unfold right before their eyes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As such, they have the tools (Internet, news Web sites, Wikipedia , Google ) to find the information they need easily. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Therefore, nonprofits must make sure that information about their work is easily and effortlessly accessible. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Life/Work Balance <ul><li>For this generation, issues between life and work are central. </li></ul><ul><li>Notice the placement and priority in the title above: Life/Work as opposed to Work/Life . Generation Y prioritizes the ‘life’ side of things much more than the ‘work’ side of things. </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofits can capitalize on this priority by showcasing the benefits of their organization and its opportunities in terms of improving the quality of life of those involved. </li></ul><ul><li>Likewise, nonprofits should design opportunities for giving and volunteering around the life and priorities of this generation. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Engagement <ul><li>All of these characteristics combine to redefine how this generation understands engagement . </li></ul><ul><li>This is the first generation that had service requirements for graduation. Many groups they were also a part of required community service in some way. </li></ul><ul><li>As such, Generation Y knows how to volunteer and serve – the question for them is which opportunity to accept. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, service is nearly second nature – they’re constantly looking for a way to improve their community and change the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofits can take advantage of this by making sure that they can be found by Generation Y in the places and spaces in which they’re looking. </li></ul>
  8. 8. A case study: <ul><li>For over two years, has consistently grown its audience among Generation Y, who is looking for easy and meaningful ways to make a difference. </li></ul><ul><li> ’s daily content focuses on inspiring people to change the world by eliminating the two biggest excuses people have for not caring: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I don’t know how. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I don’t have enough time. </li></ul></ul><ul><li> ultimately looks to start a conversation with each of its readers that continues indefinitely in order to take someone who doesn’t care about a certain issue (and therefore isn’t cool) to a point where they’re ready to recruit others to that issue. </li></ul><ul><li>This happens by asking for only a small commitment (five minutes) to start, and then progressively walking someone through the gradual steps of engagement until he or she is regularly involved in community work. </li></ul>
  9. 9. A case study: (continued) <ul><li>While building an audience and continuing the conversation, CoolPeopleCare showcases additional, relevant opportunities near its readers. These opportunities include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlighting the work of local nonprofits via an online profile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listing any event that makes the world a better place </li></ul></ul><ul><li>As such, CoolPeopleCare ’s ultimate goal is to push people offline, out of their homes, and out into their communities, where they can connect with others in a face-to-face setting to best bring about change. </li></ul><ul><li>In short, CoolPeopleCare engages people who are desperately looking for ways to change the world. We meet this need by showing them ideas, opportunities and organizations that are actively doing so. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The next generation is bringing about something new <ul><li>The next generation is redefining change by redefining three core components of it: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. A new kind of community <ul><li>Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, said, “We are the third place in the lives of millions of our customers. We are the coffee that brings people together every day around the world to foster conversation and community .” </li></ul><ul><li>The third place to which Schultz is referring is defined as that place where people spend the third most amount of time during a typical day (home and work are #1 and #2, respectively). What used to be the church or a civic organization has been replaced by a coffee shop. </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, Web sites like LinkedIn .com and MeetUp .com have replaced chambers of commerce as resources and destinations when it comes to networking and introductions. </li></ul><ul><li>And, with the rise of social media, online networking has replaced networking in the real world. For example, look at the next slide, which depicts social media Web sites as if they were real countries, based on number of users. </li></ul>
  12. 13. A new kind of influence <ul><li>Generation Y makes decisions based on community input, since community is so important to them. Therefore, they’re paying attention to what’s said on blogs and social networking sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging statistics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>According to’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere report, 133 million blogs have been created since 2002. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are nearly one million new blog posts every day. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to read more. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social networking statistics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook is now the number one social networking site in the world. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MySpace and Facebook attract about 115 million people each on a monthly basis. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to read more. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. A new kind of leader <ul><li>According to The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Generation Y is motivated to enter the social sector in a different way than Baby Boomers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generation Y is more anxious about Life/Work conflicts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generation Y will experiment with different organizational forms. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. Getting the right message to the right people <ul><li>Any successful communications strategy will enable your nonprofit to get the right message to the right audience. If you’re focusing on Generation Y, there are five things that your nonprofit needs to ‘get’: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get digital </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get relevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get simple </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get practical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get original </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Step one: Get Digital <ul><li>While direct mail may work for some, online communications work best for Gen Y. They’ve likely moved around over the last few years, so even if you have their address on file, chances are it’s outdated by two or three moves. </li></ul><ul><li>And, with many 20-somethings using their inbox and social networking accounts to keep track of what's important, your message needs to get online to get noticed. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Step two: Get Relevant <ul><li>Once you’re online, you’ve got to make your message relevant to your readers. Google’s AdSense has made most ads people see on Web sites relevant to the content, so your message must blend in with their interests and passions. But, it also has to make sense in the context of their lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t ask them to commit hours every week for a year during a time of life that is full of exploration and transitions. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Step three: Get Simple <ul><li>Attention spans are decreasing faster than the icecaps. If you can’t say it in less than 100 words, you won’t have any takers. Your initial message only needs to result in the next step, not every step. Your first goal should be to get them to respond with the next appropriate action, whether that is visiting your Web site, filling out some information, or taking a survey. </li></ul><ul><li>After that, simplify your message so they take another step. </li></ul>
  18. 19. Step four: Get Practical <ul><li>Don’t ask for a big donation. Don’t invite them to a stuffy cocktail reception. Instead, ask them to do something during a commercial break or while they’re killing time before getting to work. Ask them to spare you some pocket change. </li></ul><ul><li>When appealing to younger donors and volunteers, you want to create loyalty so they keep coming back once they have more time and money. </li></ul>
  19. 20. Step five: Get Original <ul><li>You’ve got to stand out in a crowded marketplace that isn’t thinning out anytime soon. Not only do you have to compete with other nonprofits nearby, but if you’re asking for just a few bucks, you’re competing with iTunes, Starbucks and anything else that is reaching into the shallow pockets of Millennials. </li></ul><ul><li>An original and creative idea (think sticky) has a better chance of getting these folks to take the next step. </li></ul>
  20. 21. And then? Make a list (or two) <ul><li>Now that you know what comprises a good Gen-Y messaging campaign, you’ve got some work to do. Right now, make two lists : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On the first list, write down who’s currently coming to your Web site. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>On the second list, write who you’d like to be visiting your site. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you can’t answer either question, it’s time to take a step back and examine your online presence. More on that topic can be found by clicking here. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now that you’ve made your lists, ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the lists match? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should the lists match? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which list is more important right now? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which list is more important over the next five years? </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Converting them from strangers to advocates <ul><li>A good nonprofit marketing campaign should be designed to walk your audience through the five stages from stranger to advocate : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A stranger is someone who doesn’t know anything about your organization or its work. In most cases, they’ve never even heard of your name. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A friend is someone who knows about you, can recognize your name, and might even be able to say a sentence or two about your work. They’re a friend in the social networking sense of the word, in that they have a very basic level of familiarity with you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A donor is someone who has given you time, money, attention, their attendance, or any combination of the four. They appreciate your work enough to give of themselves. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A loyal donor is someone who has given one or more of the above on more than one occasion. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An advocate is someone who actively recruits others on your behalf, converting people from strangers to advocates for you. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 23. Converting them from strangers to advocates (con’t) <ul><li>How would you classify your current audience and site visitors? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strangers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loyal donors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How would you message your work or one of your giving opportunities to each group? </li></ul><ul><li>The beauty of digital communications is that it gives your nonprofit the opportunity to specifically tailor its message to any particular group: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A one-minute online video so strangers can learn something about your work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A specific Web page designed to convert friends to donors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An online profile that advocates can send to their contacts </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. What to keep in mind <ul><li>When it comes to digital communications in general and the next generation in particular, don’t forget these four practical reminders: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology and the Internet are a strategy, and not a solution. There is no magic potion or silver bullet that will automatically solve your young people woes. You’re merely looking to begin a conversation with this audience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use processes that are both digital and ‘analog.’ If direct mail works for you, don’t stop. But if you think you could be more successful elsewhere, by all means, take the leap. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embrace, don’t fear, the ever changing world of technology. Applications and gadgets seem to change overnight, but that’s nothing to be afraid of. Acknowledge that our online world is here to stay and begin to critically plan to be a part. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work with strategic partners to ease the learning curve. Luckily, there are many people out there who are willing and happy to help you navigate this new frontier. Get them on board and excited about your new approach and desire to communicate with the next generation. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Everything you need and more <ul><li>For more resources on Generation Y, nonprofit communications, and how to spread the word about your important work, click here . </li></ul><ul><li>And, you’re more than welcome to send me an email at [email_address] . I’ll answer it. I promise. </li></ul>