Skip to main content

How to engage millennials in charitable giving

How to engage millennials in charitable giving

Young woman smilling and looking into camera in a city

We’ve all heard that millennials don’t give to charity. However, it’s not that they don’t give – it’s that they give differently.

Understanding why and how is the key to millennial engagement with your nonprofit organization, so we've produced a values-based approach (why) and practical tools (how) to strengthen your organization’s giving relationship with millennials.

3 reasons why: authenticity, transparency, and sharing

The Millennial Impact Project championed by Achieve provides annual data and analysis on how US millennials have interacted with causes over the last eight years. The 2013 report reveals three meaningful values motivating this generation’s cause engagement:

1. Authenticity

Millennials value meaningful connections and are more likely to give when moved by an authentic story. Largely, millennials are more driven by belief in a cause than by a specific organization, making it important to tap into the emotions surrounding your cause to stimulate engagement. However, don’t mistake this strategy for being disingenuous. Be real about your cause and it will provoke a sincere desire to help.

Our advice: Tell personal stories, share pictures, and feature individuals who have benefited from your services.

2. Transparency

While millennials aren’t lacking in passion, they don’t have as much to give at this point in their lives, when you consider tuition fees, student debt, the rise of youth unemployment (and underemployment), and a higher cost of living. It is critical for millennials to see where their money goes and how their contribution makes a tangible difference. Millennials give, and give again, when they can see and measure their influence. Recurring giving matters, so be sure to consider the lifetime value of a donor. Building trust with this generation is a long-term investment in donor retention and future giving.

Our advice: Help millennial donors follow their money by sending regular updates about your fundraising campaign’s goal and progress.

3. Sharing

Millennials can be very results-driven. Seeing the evidence of their impact allows them to feel a sense of pride and enthusiasm. This can lead to a domino effect for cause engagement. Let millennials fundraise for you by taking advantage of their social clout and activating peer-to-peer engagement. The more millennials share impact stories on various platforms (and there are so many!), the more others will become inspired by your cause, and be motivated to give.

Our advice: Form an impact story with testimonials and photos to show how donations went to a specific project – and don’t forget the social share buttons!

4 ways to support how millennials give

In order to reach millennial donors, it’s not only important to understand why millennials give, but also how they prefer to give. Here are four giving mediums to consider:

1. Mobile payment services: Mobile-friendly is millennial-friendly. Just about every millennial has a smartphone in their pocket. Mobile fundraising enables more convenient giving.

2. Online & social giving: Undoubtedly, millennials take advantage of the digital revolution. They rely on social media, websites, search engines and instant access to mobile technology. Consider the success of online events such as #GivingTuesday and crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe. Your organization can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media to spread awareness, amplify your message, and encourage peer-to-peer fundraising.

3. Monthly giving: The 2013 Millennial Impact Report found that 52% of millennials are interested in monthly giving. Use this format to produce giving stability by soliciting smaller but more recurring gifts.

4. Birthdays, holidays & special events: More recently, millennials are asking for donations in lieu of gifts for birthdays, end of year holidays and special events. Your organization can benefit from this trend by creating group fundraising plans that facilitate alternative giving.

Embrace change for new opportunities 

Millennials are fearlessly changing the way we go about traditional giving. While their growing influence may bring challenges, it also brings new opportunities. It is important to embrace change. Be flexible, adaptable, and innovative. Engage in dialogue with millennials to further understand why and how they give, and open myriad opportunities for growth in your nonprofit organization. 

Guest contributions represent the personal opinions and insights of the authors and may not reflect the views or opinions of Imagine Canada.

Subscribe to the Imagine 360° Newsletter
Stay up-to-date about the latest news, research, events, and opinions across the sector.
Unsubscribe at any time through the link in the newsletter footer.
Imagine Canada, 65 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, ON M4T 2Y3,
First and Last name
Group of employees in a modern, bright open office working on computer

8 (more) shifts in the grants landscape that fundraisers need to know about

Ahead of another year filled with both challenges and opportunities, we’re revisiting our 8 Shifts in the Grants Landscape blog post from late 2022 and providing updates and new insights on the evolution of our sector.

Malia Rogers and the Grant Connect team

Related Resource

8 Fundraising Tips for Small Nonprofits

Grant Connect
The must-have tool for Canadian fundraisers. Search thousands of funders, find grants, and win opportunities.