As a New Yorker, walking around New York City has become a real-life video game. From navigating the crowds to bumping into someone who is unaware of their surroundings or trying to take a picture, a simple walk to the corner store has become a game of duck and weave. Standing on the corner, I thought to myself, “What has changed, why has walking become such a difficult task?” Then I realized, every single person’s head was down, in their phones. Technology has reshaped the way we live day-to-day; we have the knowledge of the world at our fingertips at any given moment. How can we use this phenomenon for social good and philanthropic growth and not just cat videos?
Recently, I polled Blackbaud employees, and while not the largest sample set (44 respondents), it yielded some interesting results. Over 77% of the respondents noted they pick up their phones 2–5 times per hour. That is 2–5 times an hour that is available for potential donor engagement. While this poll spanned all age groups, it doesn’t take a poll to look around and see some of the heaviest users of phones and technology are millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000. Millennials are at the forefront of change, due to the globalization of our lives. At any point in time, we can have access to what is happening across the globe and we have a stronger understanding of what it means to be a global community. The lives of millennials have been shaped by the rapid growth of technology and this is now shaping our lives in philanthropy.
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As a New Yorker and a millennial, #GivingTuesday has been a part of my philanthropic DNA from the moment of its inception. A campaign started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations, two organizations within walking distance of the school where I once worked, #GivingTuesday has continued to shape the conversation for online giving. With the growing success of this campaign across the globe, how can we as organizations optimize our philanthropic reach with the power of technology and the millennial drive for impacting the social good?
- Have a clear, concise mission/impact statement that can be summarized in a short social media post. Millennials are looking to invest their resources in organizations that can articulate a clear, concise mission/impact statement that is no longer than 1 or 2 sentences. There is a constant influx of information being pushed to our phones at any given moment. An organization must “catch” its readers with a mission or a movement that tugs at the heartstrings, and which millennials can easily rally behind. I’ve included impact with the mission statement because as a millennial, we don’t just want to know what you stand for, we want to know that your plan supports change for the betterment of all. Catch us, intrigue us, impact us.
Tip: Invite a small group of donors, volunteers, and community members to a roundtable and have them describe your mission and impact. They will be able to give you insight and passion behind the words you want to convey to millennial donors.
- Engage through social media. I know, obvious answer—but engage us the way WE want to be engaged. 39% of millennials worldwide are inspired to give because of what they saw on social media. Millennials are looking for instant access to visual engagement. We want to see the impact, not just read about it. Show us impact stories and tell us how a donation to your organization makes a difference. We want transparency. And just like you want engagement from us, we want it from you as well. Engage us, educate us, connect us.
Tip: Use Facebook Live or Instagram Stories to provide millennials with dynamic visuals of the impact of giving. Find someone directly impacted by your organization and have them speak about the difference your organization has made in their life or their community. For more static content, include a captivating visual using Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Include a link to your giving page and make us want to “click thru.”
- Embrace the Power of Two Simple Letters: RE. Encourage your donors and volunteers to REpost on Facebook, REgram on Instagram, REtweet on Twitter, and even REplay on Snapchat. As philanthropists, we want to embrace the power of the widest reach possible, through sharing our content. These donors and volunteers already “buy into” your mission and impact, so empower them to bring about a greater awareness to a cause they believe in. Not all millennials have the capacity to give money—empower them to be a part of the cause by promoting your organization through social media. Empower us, challenge us, influence us.
Tip: Find those individuals that already believe in your mission, to expand your reach within their social networks. Millennials are all looking to have a hand in impacting the social good, and sometimes we just don’t know how or where we can do that until it scrolls across our feeds.
Are you ready to engage the next generation of giving?
To learn more about engagement and creating a giving strategy for #GivingTuesday, make sure to check out Blackbaud University’s Organizational Best Practices classes.