Learn About Millennials and Charity

The Millennial Generation Wants Evidence of a Charity's Deeds

Smiling female volunteer texting with cell phone at truck
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Millennials—those born around the year 2000—are changing the philanthropic landscape. They bring new expectations to charitable giving, and they demand new kinds of information from charitable organizations.

One of the most pressing tasks facing nonprofits and corporate social responsibility professionals is coming to terms with millennials’ expectations and demands. For many nonprofits and workplace giving programs, their continued success may well depend on it.

Whether you’re a nonprofit looking to find new donors or a company trying to increase employee engagement in your charitable giving programs, the influence of millennials brings both challenges and opportunities. These changes could open new doors for long-term partnerships.

Millennials Prefer Online and Social Giving

The biggest disruptor of charitable giving since the turn of the century has been the growth of online and social ways to give back and the fact that almost everyone has a smartphone in her pocket. The digital revolution has untethered the connection to established organizations.

No longer does a donor who knows his way around online and on social media have to look to formal charities to get their money to needy causes. They can do it directly. Just consider the success of fundraising on crowdfunding platforms, such as Indiegogo and Crowdrise, and online events such as #GivingTuesday.

We can give just as easily to one needy individual or group of people as we can to an organization that we must trust to channel our funds to the people we want to help.

Millennials grew up using smartphones, laptops, and tablets. For them, constant connectedness is a fact of life. Whether they’re keeping in touch with friends or researching nonprofits, millennials rely on social media, websites and search engines, and instant access to mobile technology. It comes as little surprise that millennials expect to do their giving online, and they want the websites and platforms where they give to look sleek and up-to-date.

Making Giving Public With Social Sharing

Millennials are avid users of social media, and they bring a social media sensibility to their charitable giving. Their online identities express who they are and what they care about. They want to share the causes they care about with friends and colleagues.

If their charitable giving helps build a school or provides vaccines to fight disease, millennials expect to be able to share images on Facebook or Twitter so their friends can see how their contributions make a difference. It's all part of the social selves that millennials curate online. However, appealing to Millennials in this way is not just about satisfying their vanity.

By helping millennial donors to share their charitable giving, you can connect with new donors.

Tangible Results Motivate New Donors

Attachment to particular organizations or institutions does not drive millennials. Rather, they are passionate about specific causes and helping people. That's one reason millennials want nonprofits to give them concrete evidence that their giving has an impact. They want regular updates about successful projects and programs.

When millennials check a nonprofit’s website, they look for information about what the organization does and how donations are used. They are less interested in the people or the ideas behind a nonprofit than they are in the results the nonprofit produces.

Millennials don’t give because of who you are and how passionate you are about your cause: they give because of what you do They want to know that you’re making a real difference and improving lives.

Embracing Change 

Monthly gifts from Millennial donors could be a source of stability, all too hard to come by in the world of nonprofit fundraising today. That potential staying power will only happen, however, if nonprofits get better at appealing to millennial donors. That means offering millennials:

  • sleek, up-to-date online giving,
  • concrete results through stories about successful projects and programs,
  • encouragement to share the results of their contributions with friends and colleagues

Meeting the new challenges posed by millennial donors could open up incredible new opportunities for nonprofits and workplace giving programs.