Event fundraisingWhile I write this post, I’m also texting, listening to music on Pandora, Yahoo IM’ing my boss and buying today’s G-Team deal on Groupon.

Ok — so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But these are the stereotypes of Millennials or Gen Y … and they’re mostly true. We’re a generation of digital natives who grew up using computers, social media, mobile and the Interwebs.

But what you might not know about my generation is that we’re a motivated and enthusiastic group who wants to make the world a better place. And to take it one step further, we’ll give money to organizations that share this goal.

As the first generation to have volunteerism as a school requirement, we get the idea of giving back to our communities. Before we do this, we first need your organization to find a way to grab and hold our attention.

Results from the 2011 Millennial Donors Study show that the most effective way to reach Millennial donors is with a blend of technology and something truly time-honored: trust.

Check out the findings:

  • 93% of surveyed Millennials gave to nonprofit organizations, but the bulk of giving was distributed in small increments to many organizations.
  • 57% of Millennials gave in response to a personal ask and 49% gave online.
  • 84% of Millennials said they are most likely to donate when they fully trust an organization, and 90% said they would stop giving if they do not trust an organization.
  • 71% of respondents get information about nonprofit organizations through web searches, 62% want to receive information by email, and 56% get information from peers.
  • 65% want an organization’s website to provide giving guides that explain how support will make a difference, and 52% want to learn about volunteer opportunities.

So how can your organization connect with my generation’s potential donors and volunteers?

To capitalize on this generation’s tech savvy, Rock the Vote made use of mobile engagement at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. Lady Gaga, Green Day and the Black Keys might have been headliners, but the political activism group recognized who the real stars were — Millennials.

At the festival, Rock the Vote connected with the Gen Y target audience through mobile polls and votes, broadcasts of election news, distribution of voter registration information and technology that enabled them to send comments and mobile pictures to the RTV site. The result? They were able to effectively energize Millennials to build their political power and achieve progressive change.

This generation moves quick so you’ll have a do the same if you want to keep up; Build personal relationships and provide opportunities for peer-to-peer connection at social events. Give them a voice in the decision making and leadership by including them on your boards. And learn to speak their lingo. 

MTV Act  has embraced this with a site where “fist-pumping and lending a helping hand collide.” For their campaign, MTV uses blogging to “raise a glass to the risk-takers and change-makers, and make it easy for everyone to take action – right now – on issues they care about.”

Try peer-to-peer fundraising via social networking sites. Make sure your website is equipped with your organization’s mission, call-to-action and tools to inspire us to donate.

By engaging with Millennials, you’ll benefit too. Yes, while there might be truth to the stereotypes about us, we offer fresh perspective. We can help push your organization to up its technical know-how, build and diversify its networks, integrate fast-paced communication methods into fundraising strategies and increase its transparency.

So let’s recap. To engage Millennials, reach out to us through the digital portals we use everyday. Encourage social interaction online and offline, educate us about your mission, and give us access to leadership. We’re a powerful and passionate group and we can really make a difference.

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