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!


Community Issue: Autism and the Search for Avonte

In light of the 21st day of search for Avonte Oquendo, I thought it was important to highlight his story, as well as raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Avonte, a Queens native, is a 14-year-old autistic boy who went missing October 4 from Center Boulevard School in Long Island. Avonte is non-verbal and is considered to be severely autistic. There have been major search efforts by the New York Police Department and thousands of concerned volunteers. However, New York City is now planning to cut back their efforts. There is currently a reward of $90,000 for information leading to Avonte.  


For more information on Avonte and the rescue efforts, visit the following link:


What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).  Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.

 Autism Facts:

  • Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 88 births
  • Prevalence in boys is estimated at 1 in 54 births
  • Autism is the fastest growing serious- developmentally disabled disability in the U.S.
  • Autism can cost a family $60,000 per year
  • Autism appears early in childhood – usually before the age of 3

The causes of Autism are still unknown, but as awareness and diagnosis has increased, so has research.

Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for Autism. However, through early diagnosis and treatment, children with Autism are more likely to be able to handle the daily challenges that come with being autistic.

 While I hope this information was available, there is much more to be known about Autism. I charge you to take action and learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and ways you can help advance awareness or research in your community.

 These organizations below support Autism research and awareness, and can also provide you with more information on the disorder:

 Autism Speaks:    www.autismspeaks.org

 Autism Society:   http://www.autism-society.org/ 

HollyRod Foundation:  http://www.hollyrod.org/

 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NIH):    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

Millennial Profile: Tashara J. Childs


Name: Tashara J. Childs, 26

Residence: Raleigh, NC

Employment: North Carolina Dept State Treasurer – Local Government Commission

Education: Jacksonville State University – B.A. English (Minor: Communication)

Honors/Awards: Phi Eta Sigma

Contact Information:
Email – tasharatalks@gmail.com
Website – www.Tasharatalks.com
Facebook – www.Facebook.com/AuthorTasharaJChilds
Twitter – www.twitter.com/TasharaJC

Favorite nonprofits:

LGBT Center of Raleigh, Big Brothers Big Sisters , With Love from Jesus, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Why was she profiled?

Having become friends with Tashara over the past three years, I am extremely proud to feature her in the first Millennial Profile on Jerome’ Blogs. These profiles serve to highlight Millennials for a variety of reasons, including spotlighting those who have overcome all obstacles to accomplish their dreams and aspirations. Accomplishing her dream, Tashara is now a published author.

After its release on Sepetember 25, Knocking on the Devil’s Door sold 100 copies within the first week and has received positive reviews from readers of all generations; however, Tashara is confident that readers of the Millennial generation will find similar themes in their own lives. “Rayna and Warren have experienced the post graduation struggle to find their place like many Millennials today,” says Tashara. “Also like many Millennials, they both followed their ambitions and worked diligently to achieve their personal and career goals.” Through her own story, one can see how these are the true attributes of the Millennial generation.

Upon her graduation from Jacksonville State University, Tashara set sails on life and began the typical Millennial journey that begins after college graduation. She first worked at the University of Alabama – Birmingham Medical Genomics Laboratory before moving to North Carolina and later working with the Local Government Commission. A lover of words and the English language, Tashara began writing her first book, Knocking on the Devil’s Door.

“This novel is a compilation of the relationships that I have experienced and observed in my lifetime. I hope that my book will spark honest dialogue between couples, singles, and anyone who has ever muttered the words ‘I love you.’”

Knocking on the Devil’s Door explores the tumultuous marriage of Warren and Rayna Jamison. It is now available on Amazon (Kindle and hard copy), Createspace (hard copy), and Barnes and Noble (Nook).

Please be sure to share your questions for Tashara in the space below and check her book out on Amazon.

To order the book, visit Amazon at the link below. You can also preview the first chapter for FREE!