We’ve been receiving a lot inquiries about how to engage with young people, specifically those in their 20s. It’s a reasonable request—before we know it, these folks will be the executive directors, board presidents, donors and volunteers of the nonprofit world. Luckily for those requesting help, nearly half of Nonprofit Hub’s readers are under 30, and, better yet, I’m a 20-something (though I’ve been told I have an “old soul,” whatever that means).
I should start by saying that there’s no foolproof way to engage with all of the young people in your community. There are characteristics generally shared by different age groups, but people don’t fit neatly into generational boxes. If you want to connect with specific donors, you’ll need to fine-tune your strategy.
Lead with your cause
You’ve probably read that millennials and Gen-Zers are all about purpose in the workplace. As it turns out, their craving for creating change in the world isn’t limited to their 9-to-5. Young people want everything they do to have an impact.
So when you’re talking with young folks about your organization, start with your mission. Why do you do what you do? What’s the need? Don’t start a conversation by explaining your day-to-day operations or promoting your upcoming fundraiser—you can get to that later.
If you’ve ever wondered about kids asking “why?” ad nauseam when they’re told to do something, it’s not just to annoy their parents. They truly want to know the impact of their actions.
Be online. Be very online
Suggesting that people spend more time online feels a little misguided considering the average American already spends nearly 25 hours per week on the web. However, if you truly want to connect with young people—especially those under 30—the internet is going to be your best friend.
I’m not only referring to social media, either. Yes, being active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is extremely important, but you’ll need to crank it up a notch. Make sure your website is up-to-date and has a modern design (this doesn’t have to break the bank, by the way). If you typically get your news from TV or a newspaper, try using your computer instead. Young people overwhelmingly receive their news online, and getting yours the same way can help to stay on the same page.
Also, instead of making postcards or flyers, making a digital infographic with a clickable link. Young people are far more likely to click on something than type a URL into a web browser. Minimize the number of steps needed for engagement.
Use visuals whenever possible
We’re officially in the apex of the video age. Telling stories through video is easier and more accessible than it’s ever been. Plus, young people receive and retain information from video better than other media. So, if you haven’t already, put all of your eggs in the video basket. Showcase your mission, promote upcoming events, interview staff members—anything. Make sure your videos are shareable on social media, too!
If you need some tips on telling stories through video, check this out.
Young people don’t have to be an enigmatic group of unreachable constituents. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to connect with us if you make an effort.