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How to Enlist Millennials in Your Nonprofit’s Mission

Author Emily McMahon is a senior at Depaul University, and recently joined See3 as a Content Marketing Intern.

Today, millennials make up 27% of the population and have the annual buying power of $1.3 trillion. This is an important market for nonprofits to tap into. Developing a strategic marketing plan to address millennial constituents can significantly influence your nonprofit’s brand awareness and fundraising capabilities.

Coming from a millennial perspective, I have a few insights on how to understand the millennial mentality. Due in part our demand for authenticity from brands, millennials care less about advertising and more about building relationships with brands they trust.

Here are five tips for nonprofit communications professionals to help your organization reach the important and often elusive millennial demographic.

1. Utilize social media networks that are right for your mission.

Millennials use social media everyday, so that's where your content should be. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, etc. It is also important to note the importance of new publishing powerhouses like Upworthy and Buzzfeed. If your message is consistently featured on the social media feeds that millennials use, they will begin to build an affinity with your organization.

We encourage nonprofits to think strategically about which social networks they will invest in. Social media is important, but in order to use these networks successfully, you need to have a plan for how you will produce, distribute and monitor content in order to make it worth your while.

2. Know what's trendy.

The seasonal return pumpkin spice latte may be completely irrelevant to your organization’s mission, but it is important to know what your audience is interested in and what they are talking about online. Part of gaining a millennial following is understanding the lingo, trends, and hashtags we use. Grasping these trends will help your brand access the 63% of millennials that use social networks to stay up-to-date on brands.The fastest way to lose this attention is to sound rehearsed or stiff, so make sure you fully understand the behavior of your audience. The millennial conversation will move forward without you if you can't keep up!

Here are a few resources to help you stay current with what’s trending:

3. Simplify your message.

The best messages are often the most concise. Chances are, most millennials are not going to watch a six-minute campaign video. Using impactful statistics or bold music will make viewers stop scrolling and watch your 20-second Instagram clip. However, be careful not to mistake simplified for watered down. Your message on social networks should still be a true and honest representation of your organization’s mission. Social media is not all cat videos and personality quizzes; millennials care about current events and use media networks to to stay up-to-date on serious happenings and causes.

4.Be relatable.

Millennials should be able to integrate themselves into your campaign and mission. This could involve a call to action or forming a relationship between environments. For example: in the 2013 Millennial Impact Report, 75% of respondents identified with liking, retweeting, or sharing social content . Statistics like these allow the reader to reference their personal experience. This is a valuable connection made between a company's research and audience. The more someone can relate to your mission, the more they care about it, and the more likely they are to donate.

5. Focus on the individual.

Millennials value uniqueness and want to be seen as individuals. Within our digital networks, we often make a point of sharing our ideas and passions as a way to express who we are and what we stand for. Nonprofit’s can leverage millennial’s inclination towards self expression and use it to spread awareness about campaigns and causes. For an individual to feel as if their involvement in an organization is meaningful, nonprofit communications professionals need to build an authentic relationship between the person and the cause. This type of relationship should inspire the individual to express their interest online and in-person. Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective type of social media, so it is essential for a brand to acknowledging how individuals will perceive and act on its strategy.

Thinking strategically about these millennial characteristics will help your brand develop an effective digital marketing strategy.

Want help reaching the millennials who will might be your future donors? We can help with that. Email See3’s Director of Content Strategy Bridgett Colling at [email protected]. (Psst: she is also a millennial and has additional insider knowledge.)

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