Tapping Gen Y’s Lifetime Value

Robyn Mendez

Does your organization look to Gen Y for support? This guest post by Convio’s Robyn Mendez explains why and how you should get thier attention.  ~Kivi

Guest Post by Robyn Mendez, Marketing Manager for Convio

Can your donor have a real lifetime value if they aren’t with you for life?

While it’s no secret that Gen Y doesn’t have much giving power today, the important thing to recognize is that they will soon. If your organization wants to benefit from the true potential of a Gen Y’s lifetime value, you need to be cultivating relationships with them today.

You can start by learning who they are, what matters to them and then connecting with them their way.

Who is Gen Y?

Gen Y is loosely defined as people born between 1981 and 1991, which today would make them between the ages of 20 and 30. They often delay traditional milestones, like moving out of their parents’ home, marriage and children.  They also are more educated and more technologically dependent than previous generations.

What’s important to Gen Y?

  • The Internet:  One of every three college students and young professionals surveyed globally believes the Internet is a fundamental resource for the human race – as important as air, water, food and shelter.   (Note to self:  take daughter on humanitarian visit where people are starving before her college graduation.)
  • Mobile Devices:  Two-thirds of students and young professionals cite a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) as “the most important technology in their lives.”
  • Social Media:  Nine out of ten young adults have a Facebook account – of those, 73% check their Facebook page at least once a day. *

How do they connect to charities?

The Next Generation of American Giving Report shows that Gen Y-ers are very comfortable with both peer-to-peer solicitations (87% say it’s appropriate) and social media solicitations (69% say it’s appropriate). Further, we know that the most common first engagements Gen Y has are visiting your website (27%) or attending an event (19%). And as always, making a good first impression is critical to retaining their interest (talent & treasure) in future years.

What do we do with them?

Now that we know a little more about who they are, what matters to them and how they are connecting to organizations, let’s discuss some ideas to better engage them.

1. Optimize your website for viewing from a mobile device

It probably didn’t take reading this post for you to know that young people are addicted to their cell phones.  And with the increase of mobile use, the demand for mobile-friendly websites also strengthens. If your website is not equipped to provide a positive experience for mobile users, you are ignoring the important trends and needs of your younger participants and risking losing valuable donors from your organization. Our Guide to the Mobile Web can help get you started.

2. Make online fundraising tools easy to use and interactive

Many online fundraising tools have added new features helping make the fundraising experience much more interactive.  Displaying badges, sending trigger emails at fundraising milestones and integrating with social media sites are just a few features to look for.

3. Add Google+ into your organization’s social media mix

Generation Y is hanging out on social media and your organization and event should be there too. On Nov. 7, Google opened the ability to create a Google+ Page to the world.  This is the Google+ version of the Facebook Fan Page.

(Note:  like all social media platforms, be sure you have the resources to maintain a Google+ page before creating one.)

4. Add social sharing icons to your website

These easy-to-add tools help your participants and donors promote your website to their friends on the various social networks.  The easier you make this, the more frequently that your visitors will promote your site leading to more visitors to your site… it’s a wonderful cycle!

5. Pepper your print advertising & communications with QR codes

QR codes are barcode-like images that can be scanned with a smartphone camera.  Once scanned, these images typically point to a page on the internet.

A recent study by comScore noted QR codes have increased popularity among young, affluent adults like those we are trying to attract to our fundraising events.  The study noted that in June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the US scanned a QR code, 53.5% of them were between the ages of 18-34 and a third of users had a household income of $100K or greater.  If our target audience is using QR codes, we should be using them too.

6. Recruit a young, hip social media volunteer

A great way to attract a younger crowd to your event is to showcase one of their peers who feel passionately about your cause.  The youth of today know what’s exciting to them and can bring new ideas to the table.  Don’t be afraid to allow this person to assist you with crafting your event’s social media strategy and owning specific pieces of that plan.

*“What’s important to Gen Y?” data from the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report.

Robyn Mendez has an extensive background in fundraising and nonprofit marketing and is currently a marketing manager for Convio, a leading provider of technology solutions for nonprofits. Convio has two solutions perfect for peer-to-peer fundraising, TeamRaiser and Common Ground Social.

© 2007-2017, Nonprofit Marketing Guide. All Rights Reserved.

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  • Julia

    Any ideas on how one can start with QR codes??

    • Hi Julia,

      My discussion on Quora has some good first steps: http://www.quora.com/How-can-nonprofits-use-QR-codes-to-connect-with-donors-and-volunteers

  • These are good suggestions, but more fundamentally, nonprofits need to ask the question of why they want to engage Generation Y in the firstplace…how is their mission relevant to them?  It has to be something more than just getting their future contributions.  Don’t put the “how” before the “why.”

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