The massive Millennial Impact Report 2012 released by Achieve, a company specializing in fundraising for charitable causes, is important not so much for what it tells us about how Millennials act today, but for the habits that they will carry into their future life stages.
The report also brings home just how important this huge generation is to the nonprofit world and its charitable causes. The Millennials will affect everything we do from fundraising to volunteering to how we use social media.
What's surprising and what's not
We know, for instance, that Millennials prefer to give online (70%). We might not have realized that they do so not because they won't read your direct mail appeals, but because they probably don't even buy stamps anymore, and they probably don't remember where their checkbooks are even if they still have them. They are not going to grow out of those habits.
It's surprising to find out that Millennials are not that into text-to-give donating (only 15% have), even though that was apparently the biggest hot thing just two years ago. We might not have realized that they find it confusing and too much effort, and they don't completely trust that way of donating.
We thought apps on mobile devices were the way to go just recently. Turns out they are not. Millennials prefer (65% of them) to learn about you on your website, often on their smartphones (77% have them). But they don't want you to text them or phone them on their smartphones. But, nonprofits need to make their websites smartphone friendly or impatient Millennials will go somewhere else. The first thing Millennials look at when they get to your website is your "About Us" page (88% do this). Of social networks, Facebook is the winner (67% have checked out nonprofits there) but Millennials don't often donate through Facebook (only 3% had).
We know that 75% of Millennials donated to charity in 2011, but they gave smaller amounts...under $100 (58%). They are generous souls, though, and are quite willing to fundraise for you (71% have) by tapping their family and friends. Plus they volunteer (63% have and 41% plan to do more). Millennials, especially those just out of college, are worried about their student debt, are feeling lost in a sea of job seekers in a down job market, and may be underemployed. Small donations might turn into bigger ones later so don't turn up your nose at them.
Millennials like to be inspired and often act in the moment of that inspiration (42% did this). Their pet peeve is not knowing how their gift will make a difference. Messages must be strong, clear, inspirational, and, more often than not, visual.
Why the future is more important than what Millennials are doing right now
Although there is controversy about how to define the demographics of the Millennial generation, they are a huge group, somewhere between 80 and 90 million. Compare that to 76 million Baby Boomers.
Millennials will be the driving force behind cultural change for a long time to come. So why not try to understand them and plan for them? Start with the Achieve study. It is a bonanza of statistics and examples of how numerous nonprofits are already changing their ways to appeal to this generation.
Download the report and give it a serious read. It's very well done and laid out in a way that is quite accessible.