Engage the “next greatest generation”

“Even though Millennials are the next generation of donors and constituents, leaders spend far more resources focused on maintaining their existing supporters rather than trying to cultivate new ones—so much so, that they cannot see beyond their current donor strategies and systems to a future where those supporters are no longer around,” assert the Cause for Change coauthors, Karatovsky and Feldmann.

There is a reason the authors call Millennials the “next greatest generation.” They stand to inherit the largest transfer of wealth; they are larger in size than the Boomer generation; they were raised on community service; and they put their money where their mouths are—with speed and efficiency online, no less.

Nonprofit leaders cannot afford to put next generation engagement on the back burner. Millennials stand to positively affect the world around them, so much so that organizations that waffle will be left behind. We asked Karatovsky and Feldmann a question about their engagement platform and about managing expectations in our interview. Feldmann answered these two particular questions.

CausePlanet: Your Millennial Engagement Platform is a central framework you touch on throughout the book. Will you explain why this framework is important for your readers to apply and its relationship to culture?

Feldmann: It was important for us to provide readers with actionable steps to be Millennial-ready. Regardless of size or resources, every organization can adopt certain strategies to take the first step in connecting with Millennials. After this initial connection, the organization can develop deeper and more meaningful engagement that ultimately builds toward culture change within institutions. We structured the Millennial Engagement Platform on a set of principles we call BUILD. An organization must: 1) Be unified as an organization in working with this generation. 2) Understand the complexities of this generation’s environment. 3) Identify those seeking to make a difference. 4) Lead through engagement rather than participation. 5) Determine what Millennial success looks like to your organization.

CausePlanet: What are the best ways to manage (board and executive) expectations when it comes to Millennial engagement and/or fundraising campaigns?

Feldman: Boards should look at Millennial engagement from a lens of participation and action rather than dollars. I know this is not the answer most boards want to hear. Before estimating potential dollars raised, we should focus on how many will like or retweet campaign messaging, share it with their peers and ultimately give. We know Millennials are giving in small amounts to roughly five organizations every year. Therefore, the goal should be for organizations to take a constituent engagement approach with giving as a pinnacle action of such engagement. This means that our expectations of Millennials being “givers” in the immediate is unlikely but will happen over time.

Join us next week when I ask the authors about the single most important takeaway they hope readers consider when engaging Millennials.

Save the date for our live interview with coauthor Kara Saratovsky on September 12 at 11 a.m. CST when we discuss how to cultivate and communication with the “next greatest generation.”

CausePlanet members: Register now for our next author interview with branding expert and author, Jocelyne Daw, on Wednesday, July 31 at 11 a.m. CST. We’ll discuss her book Cause Marketing: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits.

Not a member yet? Get smarter faster and learn more about access to our summary library and author interviews or try us out and download a free sample or purchase single titles that interest you at our store.

See also:

Fundraising and the Next Generation by Emily Davis

Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia by Brad Szollose

One response to “Engage the “next greatest generation””

  1. Cross-generational approaches to philanthropy are essential to the long-term sustainability of an organization. Each generation has specific communications methods and value systems that are important to acknowledge when asking for support. The challenge for nonprofits is managing multiple engagement methods as the one-size-fits-all approach to giving will leave a large gap in a cause’s resources.

    My favorite pan-generational examination is “The Fourth Turning” by Neil Howe and William Strauss. While this book does not examine philanthropy, communications or marketing by generation directly, it is a fascinating look at generational “types” across history.

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