Raise Your Hands is a charity that is engaging Millennial givers to support small, effective charities. Here Head of Digital, Tom Le Fanu shares thoughts on how charity fundraisers can attract the next generation of donors.
Millennials are often seen as the uncracked nut of the charity sector. The elusive ‘always on’ generation (born between 1980 and 2000) are apparently too busy posting selfies or watching videos of skateboarding dogs to think of anyone else. Charities have historically failed to grab Millennials' attention, time or money. Yet they number more than 13 million and are getting older and wealthier by the day. So what do charities need to do to crack the nut?
The truth is that Millennials aren’t as narcissistic and shallow as some might have you believe. Yes they spend a lot of time on social media, but they are also socially minded, passionate about causes they believe in and active in campaigning, as the recent election showed.
So fundraisers need to take Millennials seriously. Understandably risk-averse charities have focused on tried and tested methods of reaching older, wealthier donors. But as Millennials climb up corporate ladders, make their own fortunes or have wealth transferred to them, they become a more interesting prospect.
And they may be getting older but Millennials still communicate very differently from previous generations. Their outlooks are very different too. Fundraisers can’t sit back to wait for Millennials to grow into old models of giving. The pressure is as great as ever for charities to adapt.
At Raise Your Hands, we took a strategic decision to focus on younger generations of givers. Our model of supporting exceptional small charities aims to address what we see as some of the challenges and frustrations givers have with the charity sector – a lack of transparency and not knowing whether their funds are making a difference.
We found that’s a good starting point. Millennials are interested in new approaches to tackle issues they believe in. They want to engage with charity but on their terms. They are fed up with old-fashioned marketing techniques – being stopped in the street, telemarketing, wasteful leaflets through the door.
We don’t have a magic formula for reaching Millennials and are constantly adapting how we work. But below are a few things we’ve found along the way:
Involve and consult your audience at all stages of planning
The Raise Your Hands office is made up of Millennials, but some at the older end only just qualify. We have a group of engaged supporters that we consult with regularly on our messaging and content to find out if it resonates with them. The Millennial bracket is broad, from those who didn’t have Facebook at uni to full digital natives. As a charity you need to cater for all and involving them is a good start.
Your online journeys need to be perfect
A dated website that just ticks the boxes won’t cut it any more. Your website and social channels are the first port of call for Millennials. One poor user journey, typo, or shoddy image and you will be judged. Act like your whole brand depends on it, because it does.
Take a story-led approach to content
People, and telling stories about people, should be the backbone of all your online comms. It’s what social is built around and what people engage with whether it’s stories about beneficiaries, your supporters or staff. Strong imagery and video are a must. If budget is tight, get creative with your phone, or better, beg, borrow or steal the time of a pro.
Reaching Millennials isn’t such a dark art. Like any audience, it takes careful planning to establish what they want and how you should reach out. Millennials want to help. They just want to do so on their terms.