Fundraising with Millennials

May 4, 2016  |  Pat McGovern


We know Millennials.

We have to. Because as an agency that focuses on helping colleges and universities build their brand and strengthen their enrollment numbers, it’s pretty important to know this key demographic.

As Millennials grow up and start their career, they are an ideal audience for giving back. And your school, alumni organization or community can benefit enormously by understanding and connecting with them.

There are a lot of things to know. Fundraising is one of those things.

(Pssst, if you want more info on Millennials check this out.)

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s get a few basics on the table. This by no means sums up a demographic of over 80 million strong, but it provides some insight particularly relevant to this group and the topic of fundraising.

With that in mind…let’s begin.

The New World of Giving

Millennials make decisions, spend and give differently than previous generations. Why?

They believe in causes and support companies, groups and organizations that stand for something bigger than themselves. Millennials grew up with community service as part of their everyday life. Giving back was integrated into their schools and now has become a critical part of their DNA.

But where they differ from other generations is how they view giving. To them it’s not a donation, but an investment in cause. Millennials want to feel like they’re making an investment not just in terms of capital, but more importantly in terms of emotion.

Emotional connection and engagement are continual themes with this demo, so plans need to include follow-up after they’ve invested in your cause to keep your donors engaged beyond the initial contribution.

So, okay, you figured out how to connect emotionally. Now what?

Make the giving simple. If you want Millennials to invest in your cause, make sure it’s super easy for them to execute the transaction in the fewest number of clicks. Remember the three-second-rule. And to that end, make sure your site is optimized for mobile.

But don’t just ask for money. Remember to engage in other ways, like by asking them to do things they love to do.

Think Causes, Not Organizations.

This is probably the most important point to keep in mind when it comes to fundraising. Millennials want to help people…not the institution. Let me repeat: Millennials want to help people…not the institution.

And, they want to know what they are investing in is actually working. They want to see, hear and learn about the progress being made. This means organizations need to get out of the way of the message. Take effort and pains to show them how their contributions are making a difference in the lives of others along the way — not just in an annual giving report.

In a 2013 study conducted by the Millennial Impact Report, more than half of those surveyed said they would be interested in making monthly donations to a non-profit.

Monthly donations, folks. Monthly. Imagine the possibilities.

For organizations based on fundraising, the future looks promising. The Millennial generation believes in causes, but those asking for contributions will need to get much better at appealing to, and staying connected with, this new generation of givers. It will mean less selling and more engaging and embracing new mobile platforms. And of course it will mean focusing on those in need of the help — not the institution itself.

This post was excerpted (in part) from our proprietary research study: The Rise of the Millennials — The Essentials of Marketing to Millennials. You can request a copy here.


is VP at BVK

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