Millennials: May we have your attention?

3 Digital Strategies for Nonprofits to Engage Millennial Donors

It’s the age of clicks and swipes, multi-screen viewing and a constant barrage of ads and posts. For non-profits, connecting with their target audience in this complicated digital landscape is tough. And when that target market is millennials, it’s even more challenging.

Millennials, generally recognized as the generation born between the early 1980s and around 2000, are the first generation of digital natives who grew up with technology and use it in every aspect of their lives. To reach millennials, non-profits need to understand the nuances of that affinity. If they’re successful, they can connect with an audience that is willing — and happy — to get behind an organization’s mission. Research shows that while they aren’t at the peak of their earning years, millennials are ready to support causes they believe in by donating, volunteering their time and leveraging their social networks.

Millennials are socially connected consumers of information.

For non-profit marketers with limited time and resources, the challenge is finding the most effective ways to connect with millennials and capture their attention (and hearts). Here are three strategies for reaching millennials and turning those connections into enduring, successful relationships.

1. Get real.

Millennials are savvy consumers who quickly detect — and deflect — sales pitches and direct promotions. This group responds to authenticity, transparency, and recommendations from influencers in their networks. Blending all three into unique content will catch millennials’ attention and keep them engaged with your organization.

Start by creating genuine content that reflects the difference your non-profit is making in the world. Think about success stories, blogs, testimonials — anything that’s authentic and can demonstrate success and impact. Remember to keep your content fresh.

Transparency is especially important to millennials. They want to know how their donations are used, so be clear about how your non-profit is managed, what projects you’re working on, and most importantly, who you’re helping.

charity: water is a prime example of an organization that shows how, where and when donor dollars are being used. The folks at charity: water invite their donors to experience clean water drilling projects via live stream videos and the organization is not shy in stating that 100% of giving goes directly to clean water projects.

Millennials are accustomed to using input from “influencers” in their decision making. These trusted sources — well-connected friends, activists, and trending social media stars — provide the valuable insight and approval millennials seek as they decide how to spend their money and time, and where to use their voice. Leveraging influencers in your marketing efforts via supportive tweets, participation in events, and Instagram and Facebook posts, will boost your non-profit’s credibility and visibility with your millennial target audience.

2. Think cross-platform.

The days of just watching a TV show or looking at single website are long gone. It’s the era of time-shift or “catch up” programming, streaming shows on phones, playing games on TVs, and using multiple social media channels all at once.

That’s why many marketers are executing cross-platform campaigns to meet their audience wherever they are. When it comes to millennials, that’s everywhere at once. Cross-platform marketing is a strategy to create marketing messages that work across all channels and devices. That means using traditional, digital, and social media and pushing content out to all types of devices.

The benefit of this approach, especially if you’re working with a limited budget, is that you don’t have to put all your messaging or money into one platform. Use each platform’s inherent strengths to invite millennials into the conversation in different ways — eye-catching photos on Instagram, emotional videos on YouTube, engaging stories for web and mobile, and blogs to leverage influencers. Don’t forget to develop strong calls to action for each platform.

3. Get personal.

The buzz is all around personalization right now. And personalization is almost an imperative when you’re trying to connect with the diverse millennial generation which expects content and experiences tailored to their needs and interests. When you personalize your marketing efforts you create more meaningful, impactful content that can translate into action, whether it’s attending an event, opting in for a newsletter, or increasing giving.

But what is it? Personalization means using your data to create an individualized experience for each prospect (or audience group) who visits your website. A standard website experience delivers the same content to every visitor who lands on your site. With personalization, for example, you can create different banners on your home page promoting special events near each site visitor’s location. So, visitors who live in the Dallas metro would see a banner for a Dallas event, those in Southern California would see events for San Diego and L.A. That’s just the start. You can personalize everything from the information and visuals your site visitors see to offers and calls to action. How that personalization works and to what extent you can personalize your digital marketing depends on your data and the platform you’re using.

If you’re a non-profit marketing manager, generating fresh, genuine content and developing cross-platform, personalized marketing campaigns sounds daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. There are companies that specialize in these strategies and powerful, easy-to-use platforms (like Journity — the first personalization platform designed specifically for nonprofits) to help you capture — and keep — millennials’ attention.

Organizations like Revive Our Hearts and GotQuestions.Org have seen significant value in personalization. Revive Our Hearts raised over $45K during their year-end campaign using Journity. Other organizations have seen enormous success in geolocation event promotion and more.

Watch nonprofit personalization success stories here.