Would you say you are supremely satisfied with your organization’s ability to engage Millennial volunteers? Yeah, neither are we.
The problem, however, is not with Millennials themselves. According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report from Achieve, 73% of Millennials volunteered for a nonprofit in 2012. Clearly, this generation is not against getting involved.
The issue, then, must be in how we are engaging Millennial volunteers. The Millennial Impact Report identified four major factors to keep in mind when reaching out to Millennials: they connect first with causes, not organizations; they look for ways to involve their social networks (online and offline); they are attracted to opportunities that help them build professional skills and expertise; and they tend to get involved along a volunteer continuum.
So if you focus on these four elements when engaging Millennials with your organization, you should see some great results.
Connect Millennials to Your Cause
The ever-valuable Millennial Impact Report reinforced a growing maxim: Millennials care about and support causes, not specific organizations. So when reaching out to Millennials, your messaging needs to focus on the work you’re doing for the cause. Speak to their passions, and the relationship with your nonprofit will come later.
Additionally, Millennials need to be able to see the concrete impact their volunteering has on what they care about – so be sure to provide inspirational stories and impact reports to any Millennial prospect.
Bond with Millennials’ Social Needs
According to the Millennial Impact Report, Millennials like to impulsively share and contribute within their social networks – so it’s important that your opportunities are easily shareable. This means lots of multimedia and visuals that Millennials gravitate towards like moths to a flame (just check out Facebook or Instagram sometime).
Millennials also engage with organizations and causes in multiple ways, on multiple platforms. The Millennial Impact Report revealed that they will sign up to volunteer via social media, mobile, emails, and your website. So having a quick link to volunteer opportunities that you can easily put in multiple places is key (such as what you get when using VolunteerMatch to recruit volunteers).
Fuse Skill-Building with Millennial Opportunities
Millennials are pragmatic – they realize that they can derive other benefits while also doing good. Building professional skills and expertise is a very important benefit for this ambitious group, and volunteering provides an unparalleled opportunity for them to do this. Deloitte’s 2013 Volunteer IMPACT Survey showed that skills-based volunteering increases the competency of the individual over time, and 85% of college seniors who volunteered at a nonprofit said they learned something important in the process.
The Millennial Impact Report teaches us that Millennials engage on a volunteer continuum, so it’s critical to offer multiple ways and levels of getting involved, from virtual and microvolunteering, to one-day events, to pro bono projects, to board opportunities.
Be as flexible and transparent as possible, including a calendar of events in your communications to Millennials. Be willing to work with them to design a volunteering relationship that is clear in terms of expectations, commitment and impact.
Because of the many ways Millennials like to get involved, you can also be creative when designing volunteer opportunities. For example, the Millennial Impact Report showed that 70% of Millennials are willing to raise money on behalf of a nonprofit they care about – so why not engage your young supporters as volunteer fundraisers?
Many Millennials express frustration with long, inefficient and unnecessary training and orientation. Invest serious time and effort into making sure your volunteer trainings and orientations are as short and efficient as possible. Even better: put them online.
How does your organization make itself sticky for Millennials? Share with us below!
Shari led Online Marketing and Communications at VolunteerMatch from 2010-2015. After working with nonprofits for 9 years, she moved over to the corporate sector and is now leading Inbound Marketing for a tech company in San Francisco.