As a ‘Millennial Wannabe’, I am happy to work with a mostly millennial team at the moment. Generational studies in general always interested me. Whenever a new generation comes into economic limelight, there are always heated and polarised debates about their future.
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of discussions at the moment ranging from how Millennials will be the end of us all to how they will save the world.
So much so in the sustainability world. Are Millennials more environment aware and does it translate into action? Do they decrease their impact because they want to or have to? What does their engagement with technology mean for impact organisations’ communication plans? Do Millennials contribute to causes? Can they, financially? And what does it all mean for green/ impact vs mainstream organisations and products?
I picked 3 articles which for me do cut through the hype and allow to form a balanced view on the subject.
This post in Guardian aims to demistify this new generation and their motivations, and help formulate a strategy of working with them for impact organisations. The two main points that it makes for me are do not formulate your opinion based on widely circulating myths and even studies, and marketing basics remain the same – be interesting, be relevant, reach out via relevant channels (goodbye DM and email).
As the sustainability challenges we face become harder to ignore, it will be the millennials and future generations who will have no choice but to act, regardless of their interest. It’s therefore crucial to engage young people as individuals instead of assuming that we are already on your side and waiting for the opportunity to help your cause.
Another post talks about how Millennials define new standards of giving for the impact sector overall. Millennials keep it personal and rely on their friends’ recommendations (or causes that they are passionate about). They are not receptive to Direct Marketing (I am a firm believer that unless you are targeting 50+, DM should go, full stop). They give to cause, not organisation. So you should talk about your cause, not yourself, and it better be interesting – there is lots of content/ media that you need to cut through.
It’s a donor-centred, mission-based approach to communicating what it is you do. Let’s face it. Most donors are not donating because they like your organization. They donate because they like the cause you serve. They want to hear about the impact you have on that cause. … I would be willing to bet that taking this approach to fundraising and communications will yield results in all of your donor groups. Not just Millennials.
Millennials are tied to their gadgets, many can not imagine living without Internet. Everything is instant in this connected world. So if you plan on continuing with 1 email newsletter a month, you are not going to cut through. You need to become personal, connected, multi-faceted. You need to generate content that they feel compelled to share.
Millennials do not just consume media, they also proactively create and share. They innovate. Indeed, this is ‘a very powerful group of youth who want to define the future of technology in order to harness innovation’ (source: Next Women).
If you can help Millennials understand more about the cause that interests them, provide good interesting relevant content, help them connect with your organisation and establish trust, by providing plenty of relevant information, via a variety of relevant channels, while being fully transparent, if your content is so good that they feel compelled to share it with their friends, and if you can give them tools to be creative, to advocate the cause in their world, to feel like they are doing it with you- then you have nailed it.
Learn to work with Millennials, and this just might change how your organisation works in general, for the better.