Engaging Millennials in Your Mission

Whether its hunger or human trafficking, clean water or orphan care, millennials are passionate about injustice and want to be the generation that changes things. Why should that matter to you? Well, the millennial generation is entering the workforce like a tidal wave, which means your hiring, fundraising, advocacy, and vision need to include a plan to harness the power of these idealists and engage them with your mission. Here are five ways you can keep millennials in mind as you plan for the future of your org, although I would argue these principles are important to implement across all age ranges.

1.       Harness Advocacy

Millennials want their voice to matter—I would say, as a generation, our biggest fear would be that ours doesn’t. According to Pew Research Center, the average American has 732 online connections, but a quick Facebook or Twitter search of millennials you know makes it easy to see some people blow that out of the water on just one site. With more contacts than your tracking system would know what to do with, it is a shame that so many organizations have no easy way for users to share stories, pictures, or even a logo easily on social media.

charity:water is great at engaging millennials on this level, right on their homepage which boasts, “You can….for clean water. Start a Campaign.” They then have sharable images, hashtags, and resources to make everyone an advocate.

2.       More Distrust Doesn’t Mean More Info

You probably already know that millennials are distrusting of organizational structures such as the church or large organizations. It is easy to want to prove you are trustworthy and doing good things by adding more—more documents, more words, more webpages on your site. This won’t do anything to engage millennials. We’re used to 140 characters and our attention span has, in some sad cases, proven to be shorter than that of a goldfish. So instead of more, use less, but use it well. A two sentence story of a life changed laid over a picture will do more for you than your 10 page annual report ever could. Better yet, skip the print altogether and use a video.

3.       Continued Stories

Since millennials have short attention spans, to keep millennials engaged in the long haul it is important to share stories continuously. The story that got them involved won’t always be able to keep them giving or advocating for you if you don’t have something new to share. It is a legacy of stories, shared often, that will keep millennials engaged.

4.       Be Specific, Especially in Fundraising

Millennials want to know exactly where their money is going. A simple country name or vague “food and schooling” program isn’t enough to ignite passion.  But telling someone your fifty dollar purse was made by Mary in Uganda and allows her to send her children to school is powerful. Let them feel the power of their gift by going a little deeper.

Fair Trade Friday and Noonday Collection are both great at recognizing this. Every product comes with a tag, and Noonday’s come with the name and some info about the artisan who created your product.

5.       Hire Millennials

If you want to gain millennial attention, you have to have millennials on staff. They shouldn’t be hard to find, as more millennials want to do meaningful work than ever before (30% of millennials list “meaningful work” a measure of career success).  A few years ago, the organization I work for re-strategized, decentralizing the organization and hiring millennials around the nation. There was a 400% increase in recruitment for missions, and many of those joining were millennials because millennials were also the ones doing the recruiting. If a millennial working for you is excited about the mission, they become a force and your cause’s greatest champion among their peers.

Millennials can have a bad reputation, but if you can engage them in your mission, their impact is undeniable. By giving them a voice and a story to share, millennials can be a huge force for good.