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6 Ways to Engage Millennial Donors

Renee Estrada

Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation's largest living generation. They’re also getting more politically active, so it’s a smart move for organizations to engage with them, and if you haven’t been already, it’s not too late! We’ve rounded up six ways to reach out to millennial donors to help boost your fundraising efforts.

1. Rethink mail asks


First, millennials move around, a lot. They might not live at the same place they lived 5 or 6 months ago, and another 6 months down the line they might live in a totally different city, so there’s a good chance they’re going to miss your year-end appeal and other mail pieces.

Second, even if they receive your ask, they usually don’t have checks or cash to send back, which means they’re not going to be giving either.

Instead, do a cross check to see if they’re on your email list. If they are, then they’re hearing your asks there, and like other donors they don’t want to feel bombarded. Additionally, if a donor keeps giving online, despite your repeated mail asks, consider dropping them from the mail list or include a mail opt-out button. Often if someone has made a small donation, say $5, they don’t want to get 5 or 6 mail pieces that probably equate to the cost of the initial donation.

By the way, with EveryAction Development, you can plan, implement, and track all direct mail and efforts, and monitor ROI. You can read more about that here.

Suggestion: A member of our team once received a 'Thank you' note from a political campaign with no other ask. The candidate didn’t go on to win the higher office he was seeking, but was still an elected official. This created an opportunity to feel a connection to the campaign, and as a result our team member feels more inclined to donate to him in the future when he is up for reelection.

2. Invite them to your events

While they probably can’t afford tickets to your annual gala, you should still use events to engage with millennials. If your organization holds several events a year, for example a comedy night, a tennis tournament, a poker tournament, or an annual cocktail reception, consider skewing one of these towards millennials, or at least widening the pool to “low-dollar’ young donors. They may be willing to pay $50 or $70 for an entertaining comedy show or cocktail hour where they can network. 

3. Swag offers


Millennials, like most people, love putting stickers on their water bottles, laptops, bike helmets and it’s always nice to receive something for making a contribution. Every once in awhile consider running a swag promotion, something like "receive a sticker with every donation" or "get a t-shirt for $25." The product options are endless: tote bags, limited-edition button sets, sweatshirts, water bottles, mugs. Or if you have a store, drop an email every so often and encourage them to check it out.

Suggestion: If you really want to maximize the number of people who purchase swag, have a contest. Offer 3 or 4 different designs and have supporters vote via email and social media, then announce the winner of the limited edition design. The results will also give you feedback on the type of designs your list generally prefers.

4. Volunteer opportunities 


Between rising rents and student loans, millennials’ budgets can be tight, but they are usually happy to give their time. If there are volunteer opportunities, invite them, and they’ll probably bring a friend or two. Over time, this engagement wins them over. As they get older, they’ll be loyal to your organization, not only with their time but perhaps with their dollars. 

5. Find millennials through digital ads. 

If you’re looking to do targeted awareness outreach to millennials, run ads on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can target by age, political leanings, interests, and tons of other options. This is without a doubt the best place to find millennials and connect with them.

6. Optimize your forms for mobile.


Like most everyone these days, millennials are on their phone quite a bit, so make it easier for them to view your content, sign up forms, and donation pages. The good news is that all of EveryAction’s forms are optimized for mobile, so it’s less work on your end.

We don’t want to leave you thinking, “well these are great ideas, but how do I implement them?” A lot of this work is done through targeting and in order to target people you first need their information. It can be tricky to get data like age and birth date from your subscribers, so ask for their birthday on a survey or when they sign up (tell them you’ll send a special birthday message). When their birthday or birth month comes along, send them an email with a coupon for 10% off the store, a special swag giveaway, or just a heartfelt birthday wish and thank you for their support.

So, there you have it! With these 6 tips in mind (and a little creativity), you have every possibility to expand your reach and connect with a whole new segment of donors.

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Topics: fundraising, donors, donor management, millennials