Case Study: Finding Ways to Match Nonprofits and Millennials

Nonprofits need an eHarmony for Millennials.

Much like the dating world, the interest is there, but often there is disconnect between finding the right match between what a nonprofit needs and the causes Millennials want to help with.

During her session at MCON14 Wednesday morning, Jean Case, the CEO of The Case Foundation, suggested an eHarmony solution to solve the mystery of matching Millennials to nonprofits.

While the nonprofit dating site is a longshot, Case explained what sets the Millennial generation apart from others, how to engage Millennials and the main challenges facing Millennials.

To help the dating process, or rather volunteer recruitment, Case offered two tips to nonprofits to better find matches.

1. Listen to What Millennials Are Saying

The most important thing nonprofits can do when targeting Millennials is to listen to what they are saying. By showing this authentic interest, and learning from what they are saying, nonprofits can better involve Millennials in their operations.

And what are they saying? According to Case, Millennials don’t just want to work for companies that do good things. They want to work with organizations that empower them to make the impact on the community that they desire. Millennials do not see their life segmented into different parts the way previous generations did. No longer are they just at work, then just at home and being social. They want their worlds to meld together so they can have fun at work, and care enough about their work to let it bleed into to their everyday life.

2. Put Millennials On Your Board

One of the ways Jean suggested to actively involve the Millennials in your organization is to appoint one to the board of directors. Often boards struggle with how to reach a younger audience and keep ideas fresh. Millennials offer a different point of view than what is typically found on most boards, what they lack in experience, they can often make up with new approaches and tactics to target a new demographic.

One obstacle some Millennials run into if they are asked to be on an organization’s board is the give/get requirement. Often boards have a requirement that in order for people to sit on their boards, they either have to donate a certain amount, or raise that amount through donations. Jean suggested that to overcome this, Millennials focus on generating donations through online campaigns, and also not have all of the money come out of their own pockets.

Case also offered advice for Millennials on how they can make more of an impact by either joining up with a preferred nonprofit or starting one of their own.

Take Big Risks

Even though they are full of potential, Case said it hasn’t been reached yet because the biggest challenge for Millennials was the lack of risk they took with their endeavors. While they are doing good work and making the world a better place with their contributions, Jean says Millennials could be doing more. She likens the potential of Millennials to that of the Baby Boomers during the Civil Rights revolution. This generation lacks the social change. There are several opportunities ripe for the generation to carry forward, but they need to be more vulnerable to make that impact.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

She said this generation had the potential for unbelievable power if they were smart and focused with their efforts. But it isn’t important if all those efforts were successful. Failing is just an important part of the process. If a nonprofit fails, it doesn’t really fail, because the forces behind that cause will learn from their shortcomings and apply them to the next endeavor.

Risk is important because if the cause has the possibility to fail, it also has the chances to succeed on a far greater level than playing it safe. The key is to fail fast, fail forward and then keep moving forward to the next thing.


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

June 19, 2014

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