The Best Ways To Start Engaging Millennials

April 25, 2019 - 10 minutes read

You (A volunteer): Hi, do you have a minute to talk abou-

Them (A young passerby): Sorry, I’m in a bit of a rush.

They had a minute- and they weren’t in a rush. Yet, they didn’t give you the time of their day. Typical millennials right?

It’s easy to mistake the distrust millennials have towards institutions as us being uncaring.

(Short on time? Here’s a tl:dr in video form)

We care and we do help. Don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what the numbers say.

In 2014, 84% of Millennial employees donated to a charity and 70% volunteered more than an hour for a cause.

“Great!”, you might say, “But why am I not seeing any of them at my events?”.

Good question. The 2017 Millennial Impact Report by the Achieve research team gives us some solid indicators on how to start engaging millennials:

  1. Millennials are driven by local issues rather than national or global ones.
  2. They realize the limited power of slacktivism to effect change.
  3. Millennials concern themselves with issues that are tailored to their interests.

Now, what do you do about this? Let’s tackle each issue one at a time.

  1. Highlight local impact on the issues that you reach millennials about. Share individual stories that strike an emotional chord and talk about how a specific action will advance the group.
  2. Your communication should not restrict itself to asks for petition signatures, social shares and donations. Give millennials more avenues to take action.
  3. Align your messaging with causes or social issues that generate the most interest among millennials. This requires you to get to know your millennial supporters through personal conversations and cultivate relationships with them.

Let’s get more in-depth on what you can do to reach millennials and get them to take action on your appeals.

1. Engaging millennials by knowing how to reach us:

Through text messages

41% of millennials said they would quit shampooing for a week if it meant keeping their phone.

Phones are how we connect with the world. Taking advantage of our fascination with our phones is in your best interest. And that means text messaging.

  • Texts let us think about what we want to say before replying to you.
  • Unlike phone calls, which demand that we drop what we’re doing to respond, text messaging lets us get back to you when we’re free.
  • Texts are generally short, and let us understand the gist of your message much faster than say, an email.
  • We prefer texts for informal, friendlier communication.

Say you’re sending out invitations to an event next week, you could broadcast a text invitation to all the people in your contact list. Later use text to send out a quick survey for feedback after the event.

Through social media

23% of millennials get their news primarily from social media and 43.4% get their news from smartphones.

People are increasingly discovering and getting connected to causes and campaigns through social media.

  • Social media lets us be part of the bigger conversation when it comes to issues, and lets us talk to people all around the world.
  • We use Social media as a hub for everything from keeping up with friends and family, news updates and more.
  • If a friend or family member talks about an organization on social media, we are more likely to trust it.
  • Visual storytelling on social media lets us connect on an emotional level with the people behind the numbers.

Create a clever hashtag that we can use, upload a video that we can share with our friends and family, form a community that will make us want to participate in your cause.

2. Engaging millennials by knowing what to say:

Show us results

text message example engaging millennials with results

You cannot rely on reputation in order to get us interested. We want to know about your results more than your vision or the people who lead your campaign or organization.

Show us the results we want to see:

  • If you’re a nonprofit, talk about how you have advanced your cause. For example, maybe your cause is helping the homeless. Talk about how you have managed to provide shelter to over a hundred homeless people over the winter.
  • Statistics are a handy way for you to gain our trust. Include them whenever you can. E.g. 30% more people in the San Francisco area have shelter over the holidays than last year.

Appeal to our emotions

emotional social media post used for engaging millennials

It’s usually the heart that determines a donation. We need to make a personal connection with your cause and that happens by relating to the story that you tell.

That’s where authenticity comes in- We value it deeply when it comes to supporting a cause.

  • We want stories about real people who you are helping. Talk about John, the veteran who you helped adopt a cat or Carol, the single mom who juggles education with a kid and a part-time job.
  • Make your story relatable. Let us see a part of ourselves in every story you tell.

Be transparent

social media post for engaging millennials through transparency

Being transparent ties in closely with being authentic and showing us results.

Spending much of our time on the internet, it’s not uncommon for us to have encountered one or a dozen scam artists trying to finesse people of their money by posing as charitable organizations. Understandably, we’re cautious of anyone that asks for our money.

  • Let us know exactly where our money is going and how it’s being used. Does our money go towards a new initiative? Or maybe it’s to fund a young man’s heart transplant in Kentucky. We appreciate being able to know.

Once you tell us how our funds are used, you need to show us, and that means keeping us updated.

Keep us updated

text messaging used for engaging millennials through updates

Constantly interact with your millennial supporters. As mentioned before, text messages and social media are great ways to do this.

  • Post updates whenever you reach a milestone. Won a re-election campaign? Managed to vaccinate all the kids in your locality? Put it out there.
  • Talk about future events. If your hosting an event, social media is probably the first place we will find out.
  • Let us know about new initiatives so we can share them with our circle.

Let us choose

social media post by UNICEF used for engaging millennials

It’s not always about the money. Remember, millennials don’t have the spending power of older generations, and might not be able to make a larger one-time donation to your campaign. But we will be able to make smaller donations over a period of time.

Let us know that there are other ways we can contribute even if not monetary:

  • Introduce us to monthly giving programs if you’re a nonprofit.
  • Organizing a bake sale for charity or a rally? Let us know if we can volunteer.
  • Let us know how we can contact our elected representatives to express our opinion.
  • Educate us on the importance of voting for political representatives who share similar views.
  • Increase awareness of how our buying decisions can impact the cause or issue.

Millennials aren’t the uncaring generation we are reported to be. As long as you know how to start engaging millennials, we will turn out to be the most passionate supporters of your cause.