Why engage Millennials in philanthropy? Here are 4 good reasons

By Kat Beaulieu—HR Communications Strategist

Twitter: @stubborngoat.com

There is a too common perception among donor-reliant nonprofits that targeting Millennials with fundraising efforts is a waste of time and resources. If the big donations tend to come from the bequests and corporations associated with older audiences, why put effort into trying to reach Millennials?

Engaging Millennials to support your nonprofit organization can have far-reaching benefits that positively impact your bottom line.

Here are four crucial reasons to reach out to them.

  1. Millennials are now the nation’s largest living generation.

That alone should be enough incentive. What business plan ignores the largest living demographic? A short-sighted one, that’s what. Through their sheer numbers, Millennials can make social media posts go viral, providing a tremendous awareness boost to charitable giving campaigns. Just look at the reach of initiatives like #GivingTuesday. And as a direct result of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took social media by storm, scientists discovered a new ALS gene.

  1. Because there are so many of them, Millennials are in tough competition for jobs.

Those who want to get ahead understand the value of having volunteer experiences on their resumes. Talented and eager Millennials will work for als ice bucket challenge GIF your organization for free on labor intensive but meaningful activities like events, emails, and social media. This can save your organization time and money. Pair your Millennial volunteer with an experienced individual who will share all the intricacies and nuances of the role. Imagine the awesome results when your paid Volunteer Coordinator explains the complexity of volunteer scheduling and the Millennial researches and implements the latest scheduling software, shaving 10-hours off the Coordinator’s weekly workload.

  1. Millennials want to be part of your boards–they just don’t know they’re invited.

Board appointments are another powerful reference Millennials would love to have on their resumes. Imagine the impact of replacing some of your retiree board members with Millennials. Instead of having people who have nothing to prove, you’d have people who have everything to prove. Again, you need to set them up for success. They’re new at this, so setting clear goals and expectations is key, and assigning a mentor is even better. But the time and cost-saving results of having an enthusiastic Millennial heading up or assisting on a board project can be remarkable.

  1. For Millennials, there is a connection between volunteering and donation amounts.

In fact, by a margin of more than two-to-one, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations. Also, Millennials who form long-term volunteer relationships tend to give larger gifts and encourage friends and family to give and volunteer as well[1]. This means there’s an exponential effect to  kanye west vmas 2015 millennials vanguard award GIFengaging Millennials in volunteer work. Not only will the volunteer work likely lead to donations, but the Millennials will pull their friends and family in too.

These are four good reasons why your nonprofit should be engaging Millennials, but perhaps the most powerful one is that you’ll be benefitting now while building a relationship with future bequestors and corporate decision-makers.

Now that you know the ‘why’ allow us to help you with the ‘how’ to attract and engage Millennials to your nonprofit organization. Get in touch and let’s get the conversation started!

[1] 2012 Millennial Impact Report, by Achieve.

To Do Good, Communicate Well: Public Relations Tips for Non-Profits

non profit

By Molly Borchers, Senior Communications Strategist

One of the things I love most about my job is meeting great people doing great things for the San Diego community. I have the privilege of supporting the community relations department for one of my client partners, which means I help them spotlight the great work of compassionate organizations like Ocean Discovery Institute, Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Workshops for Warriors and many others.

Nonprofit-word-cloudAfter moving here from Ohio, I was struck by the beauty of San Diego’s beaches, bays, palm trees, rivers, canyons, mountains and deserts. With a little time, I was equally in awe of the people who are so deeply connected to their tight-knit communities, of all the passionate innovators who live here, of just how much people love this town.

As of 2014, there were 9,364 501(c)(3) non-profits in San Diego County. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of good. But a major problem for these organizations is that they often don’t have the time or the funding to toot their own horns.

It’s critical for non-profits to raise visibility in order to get funding and fulfill their missions. Here are five communications and public relations tips for non-profits who think they don’t have the bandwidth or budget to promote themselves:

  1. Map out a plan: At the beginning of each year, make it a priority to develop your non-profit’s communications road map. There may not be a lot of time or resources available, but try to carve out space for one promotional activity each month and set calendar alerts to stay accountable.

An example of what that could look like? Perhaps in January, you write and distribute a press release about a fundraising event you’re having. In February, send out a targeted media pitch on the topic you’re trying to generate awareness for. In March, apply for a major speaking opportunity. And so on. By making sure you have at least one activity a month, you sustain the communications momentum with the least time investment possible.

  1. Leverage strategic partnerships: I don’t have to wax poetic about the value of building your network. Once your network is in place, though, leverage the help of strategic partners to support your communications efforts.
    1. If your non-profit has received a corporate grant, ask that organization if they’d also be willing to support you with promotion.
    2. Try meeting people in the communications/PR field. You never know what counsel or advice they’d be willing to give.
    3. Collaborate with other non-profits with similar missions to see if you can pool resources.
  1. Don’t ignore free tools like blogs and social media: I’ve spoken with non-profit leaders who view social media as a low-priority, time-sucking task. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Organizations of all types have three communications channels: paid (advertising), earned (media coverage) and owned (websites, blogs, social media, newsletters). Only one of those is truly free.

Why eschew free platforms where you have the opportunity to both control the message and engage directly with potential donors and volunteers? My tip: find 1-2 hours to develop a strategic social media and blog plan. Then, hire an eager college intern to help execute. They can schedule most social media posts in advance via HootSuite or Buffer. Blogging brings excellent SEO benefits and can help elevate your website to the first page in Google. By using an intern to help, you’re helping them build their portfolio (doing yet another service to the community) without taxing your regular staff resources.

  1. PR measurementBe intentional with measurement: Often, communicators confuse output with outcome. For example, an output is “number of media mentions” or “speaking opportunities secured.” However, an outcome would measure the impact of that effort. Did your communications efforts increase volunteer inquiries or donations? That’s where the measurement gets juicy.

I recommend measuring a bit of both. Perhaps set a goal for number of media placements and then measure them on a graph against website visits, number of volunteer inquiries and donations, then see how the promotion efforts correlate with your desired outcomes.

  1. Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask the experts for a little help. There are several communications agencies who offer services priced to be very friendly to non-profit budgets. Sometimes there is even an opportunity to receive pro-bono work, depending on your relationship with the agency.

Work for or volunteer for a non-profit? If you think we can be of assistance, let’s connect. Email me at mborchers [at] wrightoncomm.com. Engaging in highly targeted, measurable social media, PR, multimedia programs can help you achieve your mission.


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