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How Millennials Are Changing The Way We Fundraise

millennials fundraise

How Millennials Are Changing The Way We Fundraise

Millennials, aged between 22 and 35, have the largest population since the Baby Boomers which inevitably has a huge effect on their spending power. This is why they are making the biggest impact in the we fundraise and donate money.  

The Future is Digital

The millennials were born into the early stages of the internet and essentially, they grew up together. The generation are now the pioneers of the latest web based business, app creators and social media founders. This is why the digital world, unsurprisingly, has a huge part to play in the future of fundraising.

Social media has already had a huge impact for fundraising with various fundraising challenges becoming internet sensations. The Ice Bucket challenge went viral around the world and saw $115 million being raised for the charity ALS. Similarly there was the ‘No Make-up Selfie’ trend that was just as successful, raising £8 million in just 6 days for Cancer Research.  

So what does this mean for charitable giving and millennial fundraising? It suggests that this generation are forgoing long term relationships with charities and simply donate when the feeling takes them. The ‘one-time donor’ approach could pose a threat to charities relying on monthly direct debits but this is why now is the time to change their marketing tactics.

The ‘Prove-It’ Generation

You could say that the Millennials have become savvy when it comes to believing brands personas. They are hyper aware of the often exaggerated and emphasised brand promises and achievements in order to secure sales or donations. This is why the generation are demanding a greater accountability of companies and expect a level of transparency from the business.

Millennials are less interested and often see through no-profits ‘self-talk’ and they look for what the organisation does for the cause and tangible evidence on how the donations are being used to help and improve the cause. The generation are essentially telling organisations to ‘prove-it’ before they can begin to build a relationship as a supporter to the charity. Millennials don’t support or donate because of who the brand claims to be, they donate because they brands are changing and improving lives.

This ‘prove-it’ attitude has affected their buying choices and often, even when purchasing from a for profit brand they look for how socially responsible they are or if they have a  partnership with a charity. This could be a solution for organisations that are worried about the sporadic ‘one-off’ donations received by millennials from online ‘trends’. They can partner with other brands and products that allow a percentage of sales to be donated to the charity. This marketing technique benefits both the for-profit, because it will help to build an honest reputation amongst this generation, but it will also benefit the charity as they’ll receive a regular flow of donations from product sales.

Case Study – TOMS – Trusted by Millennials

The highly successful shoe brand TOMS celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 2016. Over the last decade they have continued to create high quality, fashionable products that allow customers to purchase a pair for themselves but also buy a pair for someone in need. They have now expanded into different product lines, all with the same One for One initiative.

Sheela Thandasseri, TOMS UK Marketing Manager explains, “When people know what we stand for, they become advocates for life, so being a company founded with a social purpose really resonates.”

The brand success is largely down to their understanding of the millennial generation. They don’t often advertise their brand using traditional methods such as print or TV campaigns, instead they rely heavily on customer created content and social media exposure.

Thandasseri explains, “We love to see user-generated content as it is inspiring for the community. Our customers create social content all the time showing them gifting Toms or wearing them on their wedding day, and they tag us because they want us to be part of it.”

The social content that the customers create, build up an honest reputation for TOMS as opposed to purchasing expensive TV advertising space or placing a general print ad in magazine. The love of the product shown by the customers builds trust and ultimately shows a transparency for the brand. This coupled with their social responsibility to give back to the community makes the a perfect brand trusted by millennials.

Value Time

Studies have shown that Millennials, unlike previous generations, view their time as being equal in value to both money and assets. This means that they are more likely to volunteer their time than set up a direct debit. The generation enjoy the feeling of giving and need to be fulfilled by their donation. So spending their time volunteering rather than dealing with hard cash allows them to feel satisfied.

This feeling of being fulfilled expands into their need to create online social content. They will often use their social media channels to advocate the charity or organisation and often share their latest donations, opinion of the charity or discuss their volunteering experience.  This customer created content creates the transparent, trusted brand image that the charity needs in order to build relationships with the upcoming generation.

The Future of Fundraising

It important to realise that although Millennials currently hold the power in terms of numbers and money, generation Z and those to follow will follow in their footsteps. The digital world is even more ingrained in their lifestyle suggesting that the new marketing tactics taken up by organisations will need to continue to develop in order to stay relevant in the digital world.

The future of fundraising is digital at it’s core, but it also incorporates transparent, quick thinking, no nonsense characteristics. Fundraising will heavily rely on social media to communicate a message and to create hype and awareness around a cause, but it will also depend on the charities and brands building on honest persona and show that they put their money where their mouth is, to give back to the community to help improve the lives of others.


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