Go big or go home.
This was the mantra of the AFP Midwestern Conference in Chicago last week. This idea became more than just the conference tagline as it was reflected in the session topics and discussions throughout the entire event. As attendees we had the ability to participate in a dialogue around some pretty big ideas including the growth of millennial engagement in peer-to-peer fundraising. And while the conversation around millennials isn’t new in the nonprofit space, it is still a concept that leaves many nonprofit organizations saying – huh?
The sessions around millennial impact were unchartered waters for many in attendance, yet they ignited a wave of curious optimism for those eager to harness the power of young adult’s social networks for social good. And though we at Plenty are well-versed in the power of peer-to-peer, we too have become increasingly focused on the importance of millennial engagement.
The conference as well as our own discoveries have helped shed some light, on what some would say, is the most misunderstood generation to date. The question is – what opportunities are being missed by nonprofit organizations that don’t seek to correct these misconceptions? We can begin uncovering the answer by adjusting how we view millennials. We need to think of millennials in a different light. To put it simply, it’s time to stop asking, “What are millennials?” and begin asking, “Who are millennials?”
Here are the three things you need to understand about millennials:
- Millennials have more to offer your organization than money.
Yes, college costs continue to rise and student debt is a harsh reality, but ominous headlines aside, millennials still give. In fact 88% donated to a nonprofit in 2013.
And even millennials who truly lack the funds to donate are still flush with other resources – time, skills and social networks. Don’t let these reservoirs go untapped. Ask millennials to donate their time, talents and leverage their networks for your cause. Trust them to take ownership of their involvement. An engaged corps of young volunteers today will yield dividends tomorrow.
- Millennials have finely tuned authenticity radars.
It is impossible to replicate, manufacture, or argue authenticity.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was a one-of-a-kind, grassroots, peer-to-peer phenomenon – imitation Ice Buckets have floundered because they are, by definition, contrived. Millennials especially, appreciate genuine communications, which can be achieved by doing the following:
- Speak the millennial language. Avoid industry jargon and wordy communications. Don’t be afraid of white space. Dare to be bold, funny and different in your communications.
- Tell one story. Pictures and videos create memories, so use them to show the transformative power of donations, time and money. Communicate a clear mission and tangible outcomes.
- Let the network work for you. Inspire a few well-connected individuals and let them communicate your mission to trusting peers. Your most creative campaigns are no competition for the original words of a friend or colleague.
- Millennials are changing how they use social media, fast.
Facebook reigned supreme among social networks for a decade, but popularity is waning among millennials who are not amused by the idea of “friending” mom and dad on the site. Though Facebook is still a major player in the space alongside Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, other forces in the marketplace warrant consideration.
- Snapchat. 10% of the global millennial population and 70% of college students use this disappearing photo app on a daily basis. Create calls to action with a creative Snapchat story – a photomontage with a clever caption.
- Whatsapp. This ad-free instant messaging app features international, cross-platform communication for free. Cheaper than text messaging and wildly popular internationally, Whatsapp surpassed Facebook Messenger this summer as the preferred mobile messaging app globally.
- Keek. Users exchange and edit 36-second video clips on this up-and-coming social media site and app. With over 70 million users, this video version of Instagram is wildly popular among millennials and growing at an astonishing rate.
- Text messaging campaigns. Emails are cluttered, lengthy and boring; young subscribers increasingly treat email communications as spam. Text messages, on the other hand, are short, sweet and attention grabbing. DoSomething.org (a for-purpose organization that has mobilized over 2.4 million teenagers to “make things suck less”) has a 97% open rate on its text-based campaigns.
The most criticized, misunderstood and underestimated generation can (and should!) become your biggest fundraising ally with the right approach. Galvanizing millennial support for your next peer-to-peer campaign requires neither a miracle nor a re-creation of this summer’s Ice Bucket blockbuster. Simple, honest, mission-driven campaigns will resonate with a generation eager to roll up their sleeves for social good.
For a deeper look at creating successful peer-to-peer campaigns download our Seven Success Factors E-Book!