How to Engage Millennials

As former President of Young Professionals of Knoxville and being connected to our local nonprofit industry, I am constantly asked how nonprofits can best engage with Millennials, the generation of people born between 1980 and the early 2000s. I agree that engaging Millennials is very different than engaging Baby Boomers, and Generation X’ers. As Millennials, we want our engagements to be very personal, social and easy. Whether considering a Millennial volunteer activity promotion, young givers fundraising campaign, or awareness and advocacy aimed at engaging those aged 20-35, consider the following things:

  • Start with small asks. Understand the financial limits and time constraints that differ between millennials and other age demographics.
  • Give them opportunities to share. Using relationship social media platforms, encourage your new millennial friends to share their impact and invite others to join them in your cause. Set up social media pages, hashtags and discussion portals to make engagement easy. 84% of millennials in the United States use social media. #MillennialsGive
  • Streamline. Evaluate and modify paperwork and processes to allow millennials to give or volunteer with ease. If your volunteer recruitment process is six weeks long and filled with paperwork, interviews and too much training, millennials may move onto a new cause. Anything that can be digitized, like a pledge form, should be converted and easily accessible from mobile devices.
  • Build relationships. Ask the young professionals why they want to get involved. Tell them the stories of your organization and give them ways in which they can make a real impact.

Millennials are the cause generation. We choose our purchases based on how the corporations treat their employees or what charities they support. We are less focused with our compensation packages and more focused on how we can make a difference in the lives of others. By 2020, Millennials will represent nearly half of the workforce. Start your Millennial initiative today.

385 Elle Benson is the Director of Capacity Building for the Alliance for Better Nonprofits (ABN), East Tennessee’s nonprofit resource center. She oversees the educational development and consulting practices at ABN. Elle brought ten years of nonprofit and business consulting experience into assisting in the creation of ABN. Her nonprofit experience includes fundraising, nonprofit program development, nonprofit and corporate marketing, human resources, board governance, and strategic planning. She holds a certification in board governance from BoardSource, a global network advancing board governance practices. She also has a certificate in group facilitation. She earned a business degree from the Haslam College of Business, and she completed her MBA in leadership and organizational change at Tiffin University. She currently teaches nonprofit management for the University of Tennessee Non-Credit Programs. Elle enjoys being involved in the community, having served on eight nonprofit boards. She is currently serving on boards and committees for the Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee, Friends of Literacy, United Way of Greater Knoxville, and Young Professionals of Knoxville.