I am currently segmenting my email asks for different audiences, however I’m coming up short for my millennial audience. As a nonprofit that caters to a wide range of demographics, I want to be sure I’m using the right lingo, and enticing each audience with what they want to hear, especially the younger crowd. Do you have any tips?
Out of Touch
Dear Out of Touch,
I know this can be intimidating, but try to remember that at one point you were part of the “young generation.” While the lingo and the channels have perhaps changed, the idea of storytelling has not. Whether your audience is young, middle-aged or elderly, your supporters are going to be moved by stories – it’s human nature to have a reaction to something relatable and heartfelt. So here are a couple of things you can do:
- Think about telling your story in a way that can relate to different generations. You could try transforming the same narrative into multiple pieces of content, such as video, email and articles, and see what gets the best results from the millennial audience.
- Do your research on what platforms younger audiences are spending time on, and try them out for yourself. Snapchat for example is big right now with millennial and “generation Z” audiences. You could try creating a personal account simply to experience how it’s being used by other people. Going where your target audience is will help you learn how to build an effective outreach strategy.
- Get a peer review from millennials you know. For example, if you come up with a campaign, run it by a friend, family member or coworker who happens to be a millennial.
I know I need to do this, but to be honest, trying to develop an outreach program toward millennials scares the heck out of me. Am I just overthinking it? I’m in a difficult spot, because we want to entice the younger generations, but don’t even know where to start. What are some good “first steps” I could take?
Dear baby steps,
It’s definitely okay to take baby steps. Here are my recommendations:
- Read any and all industry research you can find. There is a lot of nonprofit research on millennial trends, like the Millennial Impact Report. But, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be specific to nonprofits; a millennial marketing manual will work just fine. There is a lot to be said for how the for profit world targets this age group.
- I will keep saying this: ask a millennial. Spend time with millennials. What better way to find out what entices them than to go directly to the source? If you have millennial co-workers, grab lunch or have coffee with them and ask about their interests, how they like to communicate and what they look for in an organization or brand, and ask why they give money to those brands and organizations.
I feel everyone is always saying how we need to market to millennials. However, I also have read statistics on how millennials are not big donors, and in fact give sporadically and are difficult to predict. All of that has me thinking: is it really even worth the investment of time and money to try?
Not So Sure
Dear Not So Sure,
While the dollars and cents may not be adding up for you now, remember that this generation is your organization’s future. Although they may not bring in the biggest funds now, it’s still important to start growing your relationships there for long-term purposes. Think of what your ultimate goals are with this audience and find ways to involve them with your organization that aren’t just monetary. Could they be a better target to engage as volunteers and/or advocates? Chances are, millennials are less likely to be tied to the same obligations as those in older generations, and therefore have more bandwidth to contribute their time (and passion) to your organization. Money will come later, as they develop their careers, and their gifts may perhaps grow over time. Remember you’re cultivating them not just for now, but for a lifetime.