Tapping into the Millennial Network

Last year I had the opportunity to present at an annual conference that provided workshops to fundraising professionals, volunteer coordinators and board members for an organization that provides affordable home ownership to low-income families . During my session “Millennials: Today’s Volunteer, Tomorrow’s Major Gift Donor,” we talked about engaging Millennials as volunteers and donors. Strategies included developing young professional networks, providing professional development and leadership opportunities, and, of course, actively using social media.

In addition, we talked about using your Millennial volunteers as Influencers for your organization. Influencers are those smart, vibrant, spunky people you love to be around. They know many people and have the ability and resources to pull people together and inspire them to take action. I suggested that they use the Influencers engaged in the organization’s work to go out and speak to their peers about the great work happening in the community. A hand immediately shot in the air. “How do I know what they will say? I’m worried that they might not be able to answer the questions about what it is our organization does.” Well, this posting is for you.

Before we get started, you’re probably wondering why this is necessary and why you should spend time and resources to seek your Influencers and provide these opportunities?

As we have talked about in the past, Millennials are social creatures. They crave opportunities to come together with friends and like-minded individuals to network, talk about their community, and to just have a good time. Using the Influencers in your network who are already engaged in your work has low cost to the organization, but the possibility of amazing outcomes. Plus, if you are one of those Boomers who believe that Millennials are narcissus, you can also see how this works. What Millennial wouldn’t love to get a room of their friends together to brag about the great work they are doing in the community? Also, as you see below, Millennials love volunteer opportunities that allow them to interact, plan events, or work with their friends/family.

Preferred volunteer opportunities

Source: 2011 Millennial Impact Report

In addition, one of the top ways Millennials respond that they prefer to learn about an organization is through a peer endorsement. Imagine the impact an appeal or volunteer recruitment effort has when your closest friends shares how they personally benefited from the organzation. A friend will also knows that Tuesday is your Netflix and pizza night, and will then be able to motivate you to change your Tuesday night routine to come on board as a volunteer.

Preferred way to learn about organization

Source: 2011 Millennial Impact Report

Finally, when asked how they prefer to make a pledge, nearly half responded that they prefer to give through a personal request. While giving online was the number one preference, the survey showed that the number one way Millennials actually made gifts was through a personal request. Just like the ‘olden days, the person-to-person appeal continues to be the most successful way to secure gifts.

Millennial Donation Preferences

While Influencers can be great at reaching new audiences for your organization, the end result ultimately lies with the organization. Be sure that you have unique volunteer and giving opportunities that match the needs and desires of the Millennials you want volunteering with your organization. Ask yourself if your website and social media tells the story about your organization in a way that Millennials will be compelled to advance your issues and mission.

Below are some final tips for your organization as you move forward in preparing to tap into the Millennial network:
1. Make sure your organization is prepared. Identify or develop a staff liaison, work space, volunteer description, budget, or any other requirements necessary for your organization to start the process of using your Influencers.

2. Ask your Influencers how their peer network can impact your organization? What ideas do they have about engaging their peers and community on your issues? What can you do to help them?

3. Provide training by giving your Influencers opportunities to present and practice with board members, staff, volunteers and donors who can provide valuable feedback. (Remember, Millennials want to network and meet the leaders of your organization.)Develop materials that will be used by the Influencers to talk about your organization.

4. Create a “Speakers Bureau” that provides a structured volunteer opportunity specifically for Millennials seeking short term assignments. Have them contact their sorority, church groups, friends and other local organizations to set up speaking engagements.

5. In partnership with staff, encourage your Influencers to create content that can be quickly shared on social media. You will surprised at the creative talent your Influencers might have in creating snap chat videos, memes, or gifs.

What are the concerns that you have about using this method? What are some ways that your organization has used Millennials to advance your work? Let me know your thoughts!


New Year, New Millennials

Happy New Year! Thank you for continued support of Jerome’ Blogs, and be sure to look out for great things happening here throughout the year. Please send me any suggestions for topics you would like to see on the blog.

With every new year come the opportunity to become a “new you.” If you are like me, you have planned on joining the gym for the past five years. Perhaps you want to read more books, spend more time with your friends and family, or maybe you even want to recommend three friends to become Jerome’ Blog subscribers. Cheers to you!

Regardless of your personal goal, it’s also important to think about what your nonprofit organization plans to accomplish over the next year.

With so many social and civil rights issues emerging in 2014, there’s no doubt that Millennials will be leading the charge in 2015 to change our communities. If your organization hasn’t started to think about how it plans to interact and engage with this audience, don’t worry, I’m here to help you.

Below are 4 tips that will help you increase the number of Millennial volunteers/donors that you have in your pipeline. If you want to take it a step higher, set a goal that will allow you to measure your activity over the next year. For example, “Increase Millennial volunteers by 10%.” Be sure to set a realistic goal that meets the needs and challenges of your organization.

1. Talk with Millennials where they are.

– Engage with Millennials on social media

– Participate in volunteer recruitment fairs at your local university

– Create a partnership with your local university or specific academic program(s)

– Partner with young professional networks or organizations in your community

2. Empower Millennial staff to champion the organization

– Provide them with the training and resources to talk passionately about your organization

– Provide them with leadership opportunities within the organization

– Match them with a senior mentor who has institutional knowledge, and a willingness to coach younger staff members

3. Implement programs and events that capture the energy and passion that Millennials have

– Millennials love to do things with their friends. Plan social events that will allow Millennials to engage and interact with each other.

– Create memorable moments. Never lose an opportunity to talk about your organization and its impact. It’s even better when you can do this through testimonials, videos, or stories.

– Develop a giving circle that recognizes Millennials who give at certain levels

4.Evaluate your systems

– Do you have volunteer opportunities available that fit the schedule and skills possessed by Millennials?

– Do you have a database in place to capture your activity and interaction with all of your volunteers and donors?

– Do you have a website that can easily be read via a mobile device?

– Is your “Donate Now” button easy to find on your home page?

What does your organization hope to accomplish this year? Does your organization already have a plan for increasing activity with Millennials?? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to share this blog with those three friends!

Young Professional Networks

Although the economy has shown continued growth since the Great Recession of 2008, Millennials continue to struggle with securing full-time employment. According to statistics from August, the unemployment rate for 18-29 year-olds has averaged nearly 12 percent. Those numbers are bleaker when discussing college-educated Millennials; 53% of college-educated Millennials are either jobless or underemployed, and only 30% feel that their job correlates to their long term goals.

So, what does this mean for your organization, and how can your organization connect with these young, educated adults?

Young Professional Networks! Simply put, a young professional network or group is an outlet that provides networking, professional development, and volunteer opportunities for motivated young professionals.

It’s a no brainer that your organization should consider starting a young professional network.

The 2012 Millennial Impact Report surveyed thousands of Millennials about their interest in young professional networks and found that the top three reasons Millennials join professional networks are: interest in the mission and cause; social and professional networking; and, professional development.

Benefits for your organization:

  • Access to educated, skilled volunteers looking to expand their network and expertise.
  • Access to young professionals and their network. Although they may lack capacity to give to your organization, Millennials are great “movers and shakers.”  They likely know, or know someone, who can connect to those donors you have been trying to meet.
  • Fresh blood! Young professionals from outside of your organization bring in new ideas and talents to tackle the problems in your community.

Benefits for young professionals:

  • Access to your organization and network.  This is extremely helpful to young professionals looking for employment or professional references.
  • Resume builder. Completing a significant project for your organization is a great way for young professionals to demonstrate they have the skills to succeed.
  • Opportunity to use and develop skills related to their desired career goal. With a great number of Millennials underemployed, young professional networks allow Millennials the opportunity to continue using the knowledge they gained during college.

Tips for developing your young professional network:

  • Millennials are more than social media users. Develop projects or assignments that add value and produce tangible outcomes for the organization.
  • Small organization? Consider collaborating with similar organizations to develop a young professional network that will work on a project beneficial to all parties.
  • Be sure that your organization has the capacity to manage a young professional network. Think about extra costs, staff responsibility, meeting locations, etc.

Does your organization already have a young professional network? Have you tried to start a young professional network in the past?

Comment below and let me know about your experiences.

Millennial News: May 25 – May 31

Thanks for checking back on the latest Millennial news. Let’s see what happened last week.

Trying to Manage Millennials? Give Up And Lead Them Instead

Each week, I always notice that there is a new resource or document providing businesses with tools and information to manage or work with Millennials. This week was no different. In this piece, George Bradt provides tips on inspiring and leading Millennials in the workplace based on BRAVE leadership; however, I also find that this information translates to the nonprofit sector and inspiring Millennials to volunteer for your nonprofit.

For example, when Bradt discusses the BRAVE leadership model, he reminds us to think about  the V, for Values. For Millennials, Bradt says value means ensuring that you give them work that has a purpose, saying that “For Millennials, work must have meaning. They won’t commit to you or to the organization. They will commit to a meaningful, good for others cause.” When you meet with Millennial volunteers or employees in your office, do you ask them about their passion? Do you ask them about their long-term goals? By really having an understanding of the Millennials volunteering or working for your organization, you are able to give them meaningful work, increase their professional skills, and, hopefully, develop a long-term beneficial relationship.

Which of his tips do you think would most benefit your organization? Let me know. Enjoy the other news topics and be sure to share!

How Millennial Are You?    FYI – Yours truly scored a 90%.

“Take our 14 item quiz and we’ll tell you how “Millennial” you are, on a scale from 0 to 100, by comparing your answers with those of respondents to a scientific nationwide survey. You can also find out how you stack up against others your age.”

DC acknowledges millennial boom with week

“It’s hard to turn a city corner, flip on the news or open a web browser without hearing about the m-word: millennials. And Alexandria, Virginia, resident Natalie Moss wants to talk about the subject even more. Moss is the founder of Millennial Week, an inaugural event June 2-8 in Washington that plans to explore and celebrate millennials’ impact on society and culture.” The reason to launch Millennial Week was obvious for Moss, 34. “You’re looking at the generation that’s now moving into more of a position of leadership in this nation,” she says. “And it’s the largest generation alive.”

Problems our generation faces

“We grew up with school shootings, like Columbine.  9/11 and the war on terror happened when most of us were 9 or 10 years old. The subsequent war in Iraq and Afghanistan has existed all throughout our formative years. We’ve seen the indifference of our government through events like Hurricane Katrina and the treatment of the residents of New Orleans. The release of secret government documents on Wikileaks have raised our suspicion and distrust of the government. Most of us are buried in student loan debt and underemployed. Older generations will disparage us by saying we lack values and hard work, but that is not the case, if anything it fuels a generational rift between millennials and their parents. I often wonder what kind of world we’re inheriting.”


Millennial News: April 28 – May 4

Did you miss last week’s most interesting news and research on the Millennial generation? Don’t worry, I saved the best for you.

Texting, email are most frequently used forms of communication for millennials

One of the most interesting items last week was the release of an interactive research tool, Generation MEdia, based on 1, 342 survey responses from millennials across the country. The tool allows users to find out the number of hours per week the average Millennial spends on an activity, their communication preferences, and what part of the day they like to use various communication tools. Users can filter the responses based on gender, age, geographic region, and the respondent’s age range when they owned their first cell  phone.

For example, I found that 57% of females living in the Northeast over the age of 18, who owned their first cell phone between the ages of 10-12, are active on Facebook all day. With this resourceful tool on hand, nonprofits will know which communication method should be used to communicate with Millennials living in their regions.

Also, be sure to check out these stories below:

The New Demographics: Nine Facts about the Changing Face of America

“For those of us who have been in marketing for years, the ubiquitous demographics fell into chunks of age groups, marital status, presence of children, job title and ethnicities that allowed us to purchase mass audiences with ease. While those demos might change per product, the world seemed a static place. But today’s world is changing in ways we could not have imagined at the heyday of mass media. We need to adjust our thinking and our marketing to these new realities.”

Brown to debut The Millennials

” If you were born during the years 1982 to 2004, then you are a Millenial. ‘What exactly IS a Millennial? And what do these Millennials want?” you might ask. The answer to those questions is precisely what Justin Adam Brown will attempt to answer with the debut of his new Internet talk show at the Mall at Steamtown next week.”

Millennials: The Volunteer Generation (Audio)

“For a generation often accused of being self-absorbed and narcissistic, millennials are managing to prove preconceptions wrong by volunteering in record numbers.”

Quit Trying To ‘Engage’ Millennials

“It’s all the rage right now in the media and in leadership forums and discussion groups to talk about how to ‘engage’ Millennials in the workforce, to ensure we’re able to capitalize on their strengths and abilities, while embracing their differences in worldview, approach, and values compared with other generations they work alongside of.”

Did any of these stand out to you? Will you be joining Justin in Carbondale for the premier of The Millennials? Let me know! Hope to hear from you soon.

Nonprofit Event: United Way’s Spring Day of Action


 United Way of Central Illinois is once again sponsoring their annual Spring Day of Action on April 25 and April 26. For the 5th consecutive year, the Day of Action has presented community members with the opportunity to interact with local nonprofits working on projects impacting the community. Because of an increase in community participation, the second day was added to accommodate the increase in volunteers.

Another first this year, United Way has made it possible for youth as young as 8, with adult supervision, to participate in this year’s volunteer programs.

The great thing about the Day of Action is the participation from local nonprofits. The United Way opens participation to all community nonprofits, not just its members. Some of the nonprofits participating include: the Central Illinois Food Bank, Illinois State Museum, Hensen Robinson Zoo, and Springfield Green and Contact Ministries. The list goes on and will likely grow, as there is still time for nonprofits to submit projects.

You can sign up alone or you can recruit a group of friends to work on a project together. Participants also receive a free t-shirt. What other reason could you need to sign up?

The day also presents two benefits for nonprofits: 1) the opportunity to recruit new donors and volunteers; 2) the opportunity to recruit new spokesmen.

Here are three tips to help build an ongoing relationship with your Day of Action volunteers:

  • Explain your organization and the mission. Be sure to explain how the project will impact the nonprofit and any outcomes that will result (packages delivered, letters mailed, etc.)
  • Invite some of your current volunteers, clients, or donors to serve as leaders for the event. This gives participants the opportunity to build a relationship with those who have witnessed firsthand the impact that the organization has on the community.
  • Create an exciting event! After the Day of Action, hundreds of volunteers will be talking about their experiences with nonprofits in the community. This is your opportunity to excite a new group of supporters for your organization.

When: Friday, April 25 (1:00-4:00pm); Saturday, April 26 (8:30am-11:30am)

For more information and to sign up as a volunteer, visit the link below:


Nonprofits interested in submitting a project should contact Katrina Schroeder kschroeder@uwcil.org

Photo Source: http://www.springfieldunitedway.org

Nonprofit Issue: #Hashtags

One of the many common attributes often mentioned when discussing the Millennial generation is their connection to technology and social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social sites have made it easy for Millennials to quickly learn about nonprofits and the work that these organizations do in their communities. These tools also create an opportunity for nonprofit organizations and businesses to easily connect with Millennials. However, the 2013 Millennial Impact Report says that Millennials only follow one to five nonprofit organizations.

 Did you know that there are an estimated 1.5 million nonprofit organizations?

 With this much competition, it is imperative that your organization be able to stand out and motivate the Millennial to learn more about your organization.

One simple way to do this: #hashtags

Yes, even your nonprofit can benefit from the hashtag craze sweeping social media. Just remember not to talk in hashtag in real life like Justin Timerlake and Jimmy Fallon.

First, what is a hashtag? According to Facebook, “hashtags turn topics and phrases into links in posts on your personal timeline or your page. This helps people find posts about topics they are interested in.” Hashtags make a great way to track and follow conversation surrounding your nonprofit or issues. They have become so popular that Twitter even provides a guide on integrating hashtags into your tweets. Check it out here: https://dev.twitter.com/media/hashtags

RadiumOne, an advertising company, recently released results from a survey where they asked 494 participants (of all ages) about their usage and opinions of hashtags. Some of the highlights:

  • 58% use hashtags
  • 43% find hashtags useful
  • 42% click and explore new content
  • 30% use hashtags to identify new trends (your issues)
  • 21% use hashtags to find brands/products (your nonprofit)



They use websites and search engines primarily for information-gathering, finding volunteer opportunities, and donating online. They rely on social media and email for communicating and connecting with their networks, while mobile technology gives them instant access to all these channels.


Their interactions with nonprofit organizations are likely to be immediate and impulsive. When inspired, they will act quickly in a number of ways, from small donations to short volunteer stints, provided that the opportunities are present and the barriers to entry are low.


Peer influence plays an important role in motivating Millennials to volunteer, attend events, participate in programs, and give. Even if Millennials can’t give as much as other demographic groups, they nonetheless are willing to help raise funds for causes they care about, usually by calling on friends and family.

RadiumOne survey: http://www.radiumone.com/about/press/hashtags-on-mobile-devices.html

Ways to use hashtags:

  • Using the search feature, your pre-selected hashtags can be a great way to identify a new audience. Be sure to follow the user and direct them toward your website.
  • Find photos to repost and share. Everyone loves a shout out on social media, especially your Millennial followers!
  • Host an online event. Using your favorite platform, plan a social media gathering where organization staff and volunteers can engage in dialogue. Using hashtags are a great way to put all users in the same “room.”