Engaging Millennial Alumni

The 2015 Millennial Impact Report is a survey that sought to understand the giving habits of the Millennial generation, which encompasses individuals born between 1980-2000. There are currently 30.23 million Millennial employees in the United Stated, and 84% of them made a charitable donation in 2014. This demographic of prospective donors has high buying power, hyperactive donation patterns, and strong utilization of social media, making them an extremely important target for fundraising. The report identified major strategies to keep in mind for Millennial engagement (bolded), which we have further broken down into strategies within alumni development spaces:

  1. Utilize peers and direct co-workers to influence participation: Try using peer-to-peer fundraising tactics. According to the survey, 46% of Millennial employees are more likely to make a donation if asked by a peer. Make your campaigns shareable, and leverage existing networks of alumni friendships and professional relationships to share your message.
  2. Offer episodic, short-term volunteer opportunities: Give your alumni an easy, brief way to engage with the institution. Don’t overload them with too many burdensome events, and try to make all offerings meaningful. A great way to engage “do-gooder” young alums is to offer local call to service events that engage alums with one another in the name of volunteerism.
  3. Leverage competitions and incentives: Gamify your fundraising efforts! Provide university memorabilia or apparel for donations above certain thresholds, and use dynamic visuals like progress bars to make contributions feel tangibly beneficial.
  4. Show how participation makes a difference: Don’t let a donation be the end of the road for communication regarding fundraising campaigns! If an alum invests in their alma matter via a donation, follow up with them to thank them and specifically outline the ways that their contribution will make a difference. Personalization and meaningful outreach will increase alumni engagement.
  5. Match donations: in many cases, alumni don’t know that their employer will match a donation, but resources like HEP Employer Match Database exist that could allow you to flag prospective donors who are eligible for employer match based on LinkedIn employer data. If a Millennial knows that their contribution can be doubled with little to no additional effort, they are more likely to donate, so it is worth specifically identifying and reaching out to these individuals.
  6. Identify causes that your employees care about: By harnessing social affinities and demographic data, you can target outreach by alumni interest. Curating and personalizing content to the interests of each and every alumni results in more engaging outreach, and inherently, higher alumni engagement overall.
  7. Encourage unsanctioned giving: If you allow your alumni to get organically interested in causes that appeal to their affinities, they may not require direct solicitation. By increasing alumni engagement through targeted outreach, you are inherently improving propensity to donate.

By keeping these tips in mind, young alumni engagement efforts can be transformed into more useful campaigns. Utilizing peer-to-peer fundraising tactics, low commitment events, incentivization/gamification, personalized follow-up, and targeted outreach can transcend alumni fundraising efforts to maximize effectiveness for the Millennial generation.

Rachael Stein