Preferred volunteer opportunities

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!

Source: Google Image

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.

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:

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:

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.”