Fundraising Ideas for Millenials

Millennials – that massive segment of the population between the ages of 21 and 35 – are known for their generosity and interest in charitable causes. Many Nonprofits, however, struggle to connect with younger generations. Consider these fundraising auction ideas for attracting millennial donors and maintaining positive relationships with younger audiences.

1. Be tech savvy

Millennials grew up with computers and the Internet. Technology is a big part of their daily lives so it’s better to skip snail mail and opt for digital outreach. Email is key, but don’t forget to connect via social media, too. Keep your website, online profiles and accounts up to date and interact frequently with followers and members. And please – optimize your site for mobile! Many millennials will use a tablet or smartphone to access your online information and you want to put your best “virtual” foot forward.

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2. Focus on the cause

Millennials support causes they are passionate about, not institutions. The best fundraising ideas for connecting with millennials is to use stories, photos and video to make an emotional appeal. They want to know how their money is making a difference rather than details about the organization. Explain how $100 feeds 50 children for a week, and then embed a video on your blog that shows your organization in action. Always try to demonstrate results and impact – the message is more likely to be heard and inspire action.

3. Convey genuine gratitude

Without the right personal touch, electronic communication can quickly become impersonal and stilted. A millennial who donates digitally should get the same genuine “thank you” that other donors receive. Be genuine and do your best to rise above the obvious canned response. If you do have an automatic thank you or confirmation email, use the person’s name, indicate the specific amount they donated and include an emotional story about their impact. And yes, it’s ok to pick up the phone and make a real-time connection; it might be the unexpected outreach that can forge a life long connection.

4. Don’t forget them after they give

Picture this: you’re a 30-year-old working professional who receives biweekly emails from a charity of interest. After 6 months of emails, you decide to make a donation… and then nothing. You feel ignored until suddenly you get another email, once again asking for a donation. Will this millennial be likely to donate again? Not if they feel like a number instead of a person.

Establish a separate narrative in your communications to patrons who have already contributed. Send updates about your mission, recent successes or even articles that relate to your cause. Work to make recent donors feel like they are part of a new community, something bigger than themselves. Nonprofits must learn to maintain positive relationships with millennial donors before, during and after the donation’s life cycle. Do not ignore them after you get funding -this is key to millennial patron retention.

5. Sharing is caring

Millennials like to share. Through social media, they like to tell the world what they are doing, who they are with and what they support.  An oft-forgotten fundraiser idea for younger audiences is to encourage online sharing. Make sure you have social media share buttons available after a donation is made as well as alongside any story you publish on your blog or website. There are plenty of online services, like AddThis, which are free and easy to implement across your website. 


Services like allow individuals to create their own fundraiser campaigns and are very popular among the younger crowd. They can utilize these tools to raise money on their own and ask their friends to donate for their birthday in lieu of buying gifts, for example.

6. Don’t underestimate their donation power

By far the biggest mistake Nonprofits can make with millennials is to ignore them assuming they don’t care or don’t have money to give. While they may not have accumulated as much wealth as some of your larger more senior patrons, they still have money to give. As the millennial generation ages, they will soon have the resources to contribute more to charity in the years to come. Make sure you are always considering the lifetime value of a donor. They will remember the impression they had of your organization the first time they made a donation, which will influence donations they may make in the future.

Savvy Nonprofits know that connecting with younger patrons is just as important as connecting with older audiences. These fundraising ideas will get you that much closer to building meaningful relationships with millennials so you can grow your Nonprofit’s mission today and for years to come.

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Winspire Communications Director

About Ian Lauth

With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.

Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content,  newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.

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