4 Ways to Acquire and Retain Millennial Donors

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In today’s fundraising landscape, there are not many donor groups as coveted as the millennials.

Due to the lifetime value of acquiring millennials at an early age, millennial donors have quickly become one of the most sought-after groups among nonprofits and independent fundraisers.

And these non-profits and fundraisers have the numbers to prove it!

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, a whopping 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014. Long gone are the days of assuming millennials are a predominantly selfish group of consumers.

While we can all agree that capturing millennial donors is immensely valuable for your nonprofit organization (or just for your annual fundraising event), many NPOs and fundraisers struggle to acquire and retain these donors.

Fear not! In this post, I am going to outline how you can acquire and retain millennial donors.

A quick background on myself – I am a millennial living in Boston, with strong ties to the Boston fundraising community. Most recently, I have spent the past two years organizing a fundraiser geared almost completely to millennial donors. In our first year, we attracted 850 guests to our event and raised over $65,000 for the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In our second year, we raised $108,000 from over 1,000 Boston-area millennials and young professionals.

Learning from this experience, I’ve put together a list of my four best tips for acquiring and retaining millennial donors. Enjoy!

1. Get Personal

Our first tip is to get personal with your potential donors – tell the story of your cause and how it personally relates to your experience.

While inclined to donate, millennials constantly seek stories that they can identify with. Affinity in values and social responsibility are extremely important, when it comes to the restaurants millennials eat at, the stores they shop at, and even the organizations they donate to.

If you do not tell the story and inspiration behind your cause, millennials may pass you by.

Conveying your story in a meaningful way will get you in the door with millennials, and the rest will be history (if you follow our next three steps…)!

2. Utilize Technology

One thing that we can all agree on is that millennials are very connected.

Whether we are checking our iPhones every 30 seconds, or sneaking a look at our Facebook news feed during a conference call, we millennials have the means to find and share any information instantly.

And fundraisers / nonprofits should be using this to their advantage!

Embracing technology in the form of online and social fundraising tools is recommended for NPOs and fundraisers catering to all demographics, but this effort will be especially effective with millennials.

In today’s world, millennials are willing to donate to charitable causes, but they desire to do so on their terms, which means embracing easy-to-use, flexible, and accessible donation tools. For the most part, this entails making the switch from traditional means to online and mobile enabled platforms.

These tools can be anything from donation pages to mobile silent auctions and raffles and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.

Regardless of the tools you decide to move forward with, embracing technology will allow you to offer millennials a much easier channel for them to donate whenever they’d like.  As a bonus, they’ll be able to quickly share the message about their donation to their entire network!

3. Embrace FOMO

Along the lines of using online and social technology to acquire and retain millennials, your organization should fully embrace one of the strongest emotions felt among millennials – THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT (aka “FOMO”).

When used in conjunction with online and social fundraising methods, FOMO can become one of your best tools for millennial acquisition AND retention.

The key here is to hold your donors socially accountable. Did your supporters just buy a ticket to your next fundraising event? Has one of your donors just made a donation to support your cause? Provide them a means to share this to their social network!

When your donors share updates about your cause, the benefits here are twofold:

  • Acquisition – Other millennials will witness all of the passion and excitement around supporting your cause, and will flock to join. Just like that, you’ve acquired new millennial donors.
  • Retention – Your current supporters may not have returned to support your cause for a second time. FOMO comes to the rescue, reminding them that they too should be joining in the excitement of helping a great cause.

4. Show Your Appreciation (with a twist!)

While our final tip applies to donors of all ages, it is still extremely important for your millennial donors. As most people do, millennials appreciate being acknowledged for their support and contribution to your cause.
Traditional methods of thanking your millennial donors work great, but your thank-yous are even more effective when you can add a twist!

Some of our favorite examples of unique acknowledgements for millennials include:

  • Donor Spotlights – Has one of your donors (or a group of donors) gone above and beyond in their support of your cause? If so, create a nice piece of content on their story, and share this out to your audience. Not only will the highlighted donor(s) feel appreciated, but your other supporters will see the lengths that your team goes to, in order to acknowledge your donors
  • Create a Sizzle Reel – Did you just wrap up a great fundraising event or have your best year in terms of donations? Spend some resources to create a great video or “sizzle reel” to share with your audience. An exciting video will stand out against the hundreds of emails your audience receives each day, and it’s also a great piece of content for your donors to share out to their networks!

After reading these tips, we hope that you and your team will be on the right track to building a substantial millennial donor base. While we have found that each of these tips worked for our organization, please use these tips as a guide, and test each out to see how your audience responds!

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Zach Hagopian
Zach Hagopian is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding. An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.
Zach Hagopian

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By | 2018-01-03T10:36:01+00:00 March 15th, 2016|Donor Communications, Fundraising|

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