It might seem scary that the future of the nonprofit sector will soon be in the hands of teens and college graduates who seem to only care about whatever is displayed on the screen of their smartphone or tablet.

We’ve been coined as the “Facebook Generation” and the “Lazy Generation”, but I’d like to challenge the stereotypes.

Latest research from the 2015 Millennial Impact Report shows that donating to charities and volunteering are important to the group that now represents the majority of the U.S. workforce—84% of the 1,584 millennial workers surveyed made a charitable contribution last year.

The Next Generation in American Giving report also provides promising statistics about the giving preferences of younger generations. In fact, Millennials make up 11% of total giving, but are projected to have an even larger impact in the coming years.

The Statistics:

  • Generation Y gives 62% through their mobile phones
  • Generation Y gives 47% through a nonprofit’s website.
  • 55% of Generation Y members follow charities and other nonprofits on social media.
  • 29% say that social media is an extremely important way to stay in touch and engage with causes they care about.

Individuals ages 18 to 36 spend about 18 hours a day with different types of media, and they spend 2 hours a day just browsing social media.

So, if you aren’t already engaging with this group through social and other online channels, hopefully these numbers are an eye-opener. It’s past time for you to start considering ways to integrate a social presence into your communication and fundraising strategy as soon as possible. While a Facebook presence is important, utilizing Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are also big ways to engage with younger generations who spend more time on social media than any other.

Think about it this way: if you aren’t investing in your social media presence, you’re missing opportunities to connect with your future major donors.

Here are 2 things you should know about engaging and motivating Millennials:

Keep it Fun

Millennials are all about integrating things they like to do with causes they are passionate about. They are much more likely to get involved with fun events and activities if they feel their contribution or participation is meaningful.


  • The success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was due in majority to the power of social media. This was a viral campaign spread across platforms like Instagram and Facebook because it appealed not only to people’s social behaviors and preferences but allowed participants to rally behind a cause—to activate their networks for social good. The ALS association increased their donations by 1000% in just two weeks. These donations came from 71,000 new donors, with a majority of these supporters being millennials and younger donors!
  • The Movember campaign, which is a campaign that runs November 1st to November 30th and challenges men to grow mustaches during this time to spark conversation and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems. In 2013, more than 219,000 people participated and raised nearly $23 million. Most of the participants were from younger generations and without them the campaign would not have been nearly as successful.

Remember, Money isn’t Everything

Another way to get younger generations involved with your organization is to offer up ways they can help without having to make a financial contribution. Build a relationship with these millennials first and once they become comfortable and familiar with your cause and organization they can grow into becoming a financial donor.

If you can help them become familiar with your organization and your work from an early age, they’ll be much more likely to grow with you and become volunteers and donors for your nonprofit long-term.

In the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, 47 percent of the 1,514 employed millennials surveyed said they had volunteered for a cause or nonprofit in the past month. Millennials want to get involved, so make it easy for them to do so by providing volunteer opportunities for them to engage and connect with your cause! You can use social media to post volunteering opportunities or take advantage of technology that allows you to post opportunities online or with an app.

Don’t count out this young, up and coming generation! Embrace them because they are the future and will be catalysts in helping good take over the world, one small step at a time!


Nicolette Dunphy is an ECBU Marketing Intern at Blackbaud. She is also a full time student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is going into her sophomore year. Nicolette plans to graduate in 2018 with a Computer Science and Business degree. She is also a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team at Lehigh, and when she is not playing lacrosse she enjoys tennis, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.

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