What is Gen Y?

Those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s are often given unflattering attributes: addicted to technology, selfish, lazy, self-centered... Millennials do not appear to be the best prospects for any nonprofit fundraising campaign, especially since most are still struggling with college loans and finding a full-time job.

However, introducing Millennials to your organization early on is essential. Organizations that focus their fundraising efforts on the same generation miss opportunities of support, and that age-focused strategy is not sustainable in the long run. We’ve got to face the facts: Generation Y is replacing their parents in philanthropy.

As the Pew Research Center remarked, each generation, like people, has its own personality. The key to successfully engage the next wave of donors is to analyze its traits and to adapt your strategies accordingly. Here are a few singularities of Gen Y, and what they mean for your nonprofit:

  1. Gen Y is civic-minded.

Contrary to popular belief, Millennials are not self-centered. As a matter of fact, 87% of them made charitable gifts in 2013. Just like the GI Generation, who fought during World War II, Millennials have a strong sense of community, both local and global. That’s great news for all the organizations that strive for the greater good and need support!

  1. Gen Y is the best brand ambassador.

Do you remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral? This phenomenon showed that through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and all the other existing social media channels, Millennials have the power to be your best brand ambassador. The challenge also revealed that Millennials tend to trust more what their peers already like and are more likely to give to a charity when the solicitation comes from friends and family. Hence the need to be actively present online; the benefits can be tremendous.

  1. Gen Y is entrepreneurial.

Most Millennials think like a businessperson. As educated young people, before being solicited, they will want to know the facts and to be concretely inspired to act. They don’t want to give to an organization; they want to give to real people as an investment for their community. They want to see the result of their investment and be considered partners. In short, be 100% transparent and interactive: share frequent updates about your finances, programs and needs, personalize your communications, and make your donors feel special and involved. Gen Y, as any entrepreneur, likes to take ownership of their results.

  1. Gen Y likes to be able to choose.

Millennials want to be able to choose between various channels of involvement, because they believe money is not everything; philanthropy is a lifestyle. Nonprofits will have to encourage other forms of participation, besides financial gifts. For instance, Millennials like to be inspired: suggest ways for them to promote your cause among their social networks.

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