There’s a lot of buzz in the nonprofit world about how to reach new and younger audiences. With an eye on the future of fundraising, everyone is buzzing about the Millennials and whether nonprofits should begin to focus resources on this generation, whose numbers (about 77 million according to the Pew Research Center at The Millennial Count), almost equal the Baby Boomers. Is it time to shift focus from the Boomers—today’s most active, but declining, generation of donors—to cultivate millennial donors for long-term support of your organization?
You don’t have to throw the Baby Boomers out with the bathwater. Though separated by decades, Millennials and Baby Boomers are actually a lot more similar than you may think. Many cultivation and stewardship strategies can work to build strong bonds with your donors and prospects from both generations.
Be genuine. Both Baby Boomers and Millennials are immune to old-school marketing tactics and inherently distrust anything that comes off as insincere or misleading. When cultivating and soliciting these donors, be transparent about the work that you do, your organization’s mission and what sort of relationship your organization will have with your donors. And then deliver on your promises.
Offer choices. Baby Boomers and Millennials don’t like to be told what to do. Just as Boomers are reinventing what aging means, Millennials are redefining young adulthood. It’s important to give these donors and prospects choices in the ways that they can help support your organization. Whether it’s financial support, volunteer time, social media engagement—the more ways you give donors to support your cause the more committed your donors will be and the more likely to support your work in a variety of ways.
Encourage participation. Baby Boomers came of age during a time when people took to the streets and campus quads to raise awareness and support for the issues they cared about. Millennials also show a strong interest in participation, particularly with volunteering their time and promoting their causes through social media. Communicating with your donors through newsletters, emails and solicitations is not enough. Boomers and Millennials want tangible experiences that will enable them to develop a relationship with your “brand” and deepen their bond with your organization. Volunteer opportunities, site-visits and interactions with your services—all of these are great ways to engage your donors and provide them with more meaningful “benefits” for their support.
For Boomers and Millennials alike, it’s always a good time to offer them enriching and fulfilling ways to embrace your cause and support your mission now and in the future.