3 Ways to Engage Millennials in Your Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign


Often branded as a generation with loads of student debt and a lot of struggles in the current economy, it’s easy to write them off as a source of donors and supporters. Don’t believe the hype.

Millennials represent a generation of idealists who are typically more socially-conscious than other generations. They truly desire and believe they can make the world a better place, and therefore they are positioned to make a change.

To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

How do you move Millennials to go the last half of the way? In order to engage Millennials in your nonprofit’s next fundraising campaign, the first step is to learn how they communicate and what’s important to them.

Here are three tactics you can use to engage Millennials in your next crowdfunding campaign.

1. Tell a Story That Inspires Them

According to the Millennial Impact Report, “When asked to choose the phrase that best describes their giving preferences, 42% of respondents chose, “I give to whatever inspires me at the moment.” Regardless of how they gave, many of the surveyed Millennials can be expected to act quickly when moved.

This means that the “doom and gloom” approach to fundraising, as I call it, won’t work with Millennials. We’ve all seen the commercials during which the editor puts a slow motion effect on video footage of sick puppies and sticks a sad song in the background.

It doesn’t inspire you, does it? It often does the opposite, in fact, leaving people feeling sad, helpless, and guilty. But what if you turned that story around?

Instead, Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue told their story in a whole different light. They went to a high kill shelter and rescued eleven dogs in honor of #GivingTuesday. Each day leading up to #GivingTuesday, they posted a picture of one dog, now happy and back to health with text that said, “Donations Saved My Life.”

This elicited a response from their audience and brought in three times as many donations as they had ever raised in a single day. Their donors acted because they were uplifted; I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them were Millennials.

So think about your nonprofit’s story, your donor’s stories, or the story of someone your nonprofit helped, and get to writing! Craft an inspiring story using these quick tips:

  • Pose your nonprofit’s mission as a conflict you’re fighting against. For example, if you’re nonprofit is focused on feeding the hungry, you’re battling hunger and the cycle of poverty.
  • Make your donors the hero of the cause. Emphasize that their participation created the impact.
  • Show the audience that your nonprofit is supporting the donors in making an impact.

With powerful storytelling, your nonprofit will be able to inspire Millennials to take a step to make a difference.

2. Articulate Impact

Millennials, like I said earlier, are very interested in making an impact, and furthermore what that impact entails. They don’t just want to know they did something good; they want to know how they did good.

The Millennial Impact Report found that 78% of Millennials are very likely or somewhat likely to stop donating if they are not informed how their donation has made an impact.

So, do your best to quantify how dollars donated gets translated into impact. While not every organization does just one service with one finite impact, consider creating donation tiers, which very clearly show how donations are used.

Friendship Bridge is a nonprofit that works with Guatemalan women to eliminate poverty. Recently, they launched a crowdfunding campaign on CauseVox for their new health program, and this is how they quantified their services:

Donation tiers - Friendship Bridge

While it’s clear that Friendship Bridge’s needs for starting the health program were diverse, they were pretty clear about how the breakdown of funds were being used, and the impact each specific amount donated made.

Likewise, take a look at your fundraising goal and your budget for your next project. How can you break down the dollars to equate to tangible impact?

If you’re looking to crowdfund for a project without tangible impact, such as cancer research or raising nonprofit startup funds, consider:

  • Having a fundraiser based around an activity —runs, walks, and races can proxy as a measure, so that you can equate dollars raised to miles walked, etc. For information, 64% of Millennials said they prefer to fundraise this way.
  • Breaking up your fundraising goal into smaller phases, and explain in detail what is getting done along the way.
  • Try using a rewards-based method of fundraising. Offer perks for each donation amount, which can quantify the value of a donation.
  • Run a recurring donation campaign, so that you can report how funds are being used along the way. Fifty-two percent of Millennials said they’d be interested in this type of fundraising.

3. Email Them

Surprisingly, “Email is Millennial donors’ most preferred communication method, with 93% of respondents favoring it for receiving information from organizations. Facebook and print communication are less valued by donors at 24 percent and 27 percent, respectively.”

It seems like the assumption would be that the best way to connect with Millennials is on social media. While being present on social media is still very important, it seems that your email newsletter is the best way to stay in contact! They want consistent contact, on a monthly or quarterly basis.

When you are gearing up for a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign, use the newsletter to promote your campaign, as well as keep in contact with them afterward.

Here’s a few key items to keep in include when compiling your newsletter:

  • An inspiring story featuring someone who received your services
  • Updates on the progress of your campaign
  • A strong call to action. This will give your donors the opportunity to easily donate again, as they feel inspired!
  • Shareable content for social media

After your campaign is all said and done, here’s a few ideas on how to keep in contact:

  • Send updates on programs and services (79% of Millennials want them)
  • Inform your audience of volunteer opportunities (70% were interested)
  • Offer invitations to fundraising events, activities and events for young professionals (56% said they were interested)

By keeping your Millennial audience in the loop this way, they’re able to stay informed about your nonprofit’s work and build a deeper connection with your organization.

Millennials are on a mission to leave an impact on this world, and you have the opportunity to tap into that power and work together to create meaningful change.

Candace Cody
Candace Cody is the Fundraising Insights Editor at CauseVox, a platform that helps nonprofits create fundraising websites. She works to empower nonprofits on crowdfunding best practices and curates the latest fundraising insights on the CauseVox Blog.