Lazy, selfish, entitled millennials: Your new target audience

January 27, 2016

I don’t normally consider myself representative of my generation. I pride myself on my “old soul” that superficially separates me from my “lazy, selfish and entitled” peers. But after seeing a recent Huffington Post article proving once again that I belong to the “giving generation,” I’m just about shout-from-the-rooftop proud to be a millennial.

The nickname stems from a series of studies examining the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of millennials toward philanthropy. The results of last year’s Millennial Impact Report found that 84 percent of millennial employees surveyed made a charitable donation last year. Another 70 percent spent at least one hour volunteering and 37 percent of those did up to 10 hours.

So much for selfish, huh?

So how can your organization tap into this hidden gem of donors and volunteers? Here are a few tips:

  • Improve your website: Online is the first place millennials go to learn anything about just about everything. That being said, if it takes longer than a few clicks to get the information we want, we’ll likely give up or find another site to look through. Make sure your website is both easy to navigate and visually appealing—make us think twice before moving on.
  • Go mobile: Mobile giving is the most preferred method of giving for millennials. (A 2013 study said 62% of millennials would give via mobile phone.) Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and utilize social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to get donations or volunteers. The easier and quicker we can donate or sign up to volunteer the most likely we will.
  • Increase your social media presence: Social media is so important it deserves its own bullet point. The Millennial Impact Report found millennials are greatly influenced by our peers and are more likely to donate or volunteer when asked by someone we know. And where do we find out what our peers are up to? Social media. Use this to your advantage by posting interesting, sharable content regularly, encouraging dialogue on issues via comments and hashtags, or setting up challenges for us to complete then challenge our friends to do.
  • Be explicit about our impact: Millennials want to know we’re doing something. We want to invest in cause, not simply donate to a charity. Prove we’re making a difference by telling us a story about how our time and money has made a positive change or measuring our contribution in a way that shows our impact ($15 is 15 new trees planted, for instance).
  • Don’t just ask for money: Studies show millennials are more likely to donate time than money. We want opportunities to meet new people, enhance our expertise, and be a part of something. Use this to your advantage by hosting a variety of fun volunteering events that require varying levels of skill and expertise.

If millennials aren’t already a target audience for your organization, make them one, because this generation is big, smart and ready to change the world.

-Quinn Sanderson, former intern