“Millennials don’t come to our events.”

5 Mar


In 2010, The Pew Research Center released a comprehensive report on the US population group known as Millennials. They are defined as those born between 1982 and 1993 and are in the age range between 21 and 32 years old. The Millennial generation is estimated to be about 77 million in size and this is larger than the Baby Boomer generation and three times the size of Generation X. According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report 83% of them have a smartphone.

The quote that is the title of this week’s post was said to me in a kind of exhausted tone by one of our customers. I understand the frustration he felt and can empathize with a nonprofit wanting to do the same thing over and over and expect the same or better results.

And yet he’s right. Why is this?

I asked a couple millennials and I heard “that’s what my parents do” and “they’re boring” and “I don’t know anyone there”.

So as a nonprofit what are you to do about pulling millennials closer to you?

I would start with inviting some in and talk to them about what they are looking for. I bet if you do this you’ll notice one thing they have in common. Their phone is in their hand the entire time and many will think nothing of checking it while you’re talking to them.

Were you the one to be texting them, Facebooking and tweeting to them during the time you’ve asked them to come in and talk, you would likely get their attention. Mobile and social is their life’s center.

Given that you can’t keep asking them to come in and talk to you, where would the predominance of the conversation take place if you are able to reach millennials? The answer is their phone and in social media.

Blackbaud reminds us that by an almost 2:1 margin people visit your website to give and not to “check you out”. Instead, millennials go to social media for fresh content, to see what you’re saying and to see what others are saying about you.

You can only imagine what the “give to check you out” for millennials look like.

The equivalent of your event for them is an ongoing stream of content coming from you via social media. This is where they learn about you and engage and share and also where the path to a donation can start. Trust me on this last one. If you would stop relying on your PC donation pages to be your mobile donation pages since your PC pages are too laborious to complete on a phone (or a PC), donors will give via their phones via a mobile optimized donation page. We see it every month.

So yeah, millennials likely aren’t interested in your event and that’s OK. Have you thought about events specifically for them in social media? One of our customers had an event in social media and reaped over $10,000 in one day. Millennials are just not big gala type people. If by some chance they did attend your event and did see their parents there or the parents of a friend at your event that’s not acceptable to them.

Put bluntly, millennials live on their phones. This is where to reach them. Asking them to come to you via your event isn’t how it works for them. You have to go to them and again, the best place to reach them is their phone and in social media.

Get a millennial(s) on your board, empower them to create tactics to reach millennials and give them your full support. Sooner than you think (as in right now) you will need millennials and their support.

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