Engaging with Millennials: 4 Smart Ways For Nonprofits To Connect On Mobile

Posted by Allison Carpenter on Jan 11, 2018 12:34:38 PM
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In recent years, the mobile phone has risen to a place of unparalleled prominence in the digital world.

While smartphones are popular among all age groups, ownership is particularly high among millennials. According to a 2016 Nielsen survey, 98% of people ages 18-24 own smartphones, and the majority of them check their mobile devices about 150 times each day.  



Millennials are tech natives who are deeply comfortable with shopping, gifting, and donating from their phones. As such, the group has emerged as the “IT” population for non-profit organizations (NPOs) to connect with.

The glaring question for social good organizations then becomes, “How?”

How do you reach millennials through the mobile devices they love so much?

Fortunately, engaging with millennials isn’t as complicated as it may seem.  


Millennials and Mobile: by the Numbers

Wondering just how much time millennials spend on their smartphones and why it’s so important to connect with them there? Here are a few compelling stats to consider:

  • In 2016, agencies spent 51% of their total digital advertising budgets on mobile-responsive materials.
  • By the end of 2019, mobile advertising will account for 72% of all ad spend in the U.S.
  • By the end of 2018, millennials will spend an average of 3 hours and 23 minutes daily on their mobile phones.
  • 80% of all internet users currently own a smartphone.
  • 33% of mobile users start research on a branded website.
  • Upwards of 50% of mobile phone users look at their phone immediately after waking up.
  • 57% of millennials won’t do business with a company whose website doesn’t work well on mobile.


Engaging with Millennials: 4 Smart Ways for Nonprofits to Connect on Mobile

Millennials are a cause-minded group, and they want to support NPOs they believe in. The trick is merely to make engaging with your organization as attractive (and straightforward) as possible.

Here’s how to rope them in:  


1. Make It Easy

The millennial generation doesn’t do strict parameters, thank you very much. If something doesn’t work for them, they’ll walk. Modern NPOs can’t afford to set themselves up for that kind of failure.  

As such, it’s essential to get out of millennials’ way when it comes to donating to your cause.

Do this by building some flexibility into your standard framework or donation methods.

In the world of mobile, this may mean enabling a mobile donation platform, optimizing your web donation process for mobile, building an app, or diversifying your payment strategies (i.e. Apple Pay) to suit the needs of mobile-savvy millennials.


2. Get Social

Right now, 80% of all social media time is spent on mobile devices. This is a massive number, and it just goes to show how much social clout millennials have.

As a NPO, one of the smartest ways to engage millennials is to shift your mindset from “Millennials want to give to organizations” to “millennials want to support and participate in a cause.”

Once you’ve done this, take to social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to spread the word about your cause and offer a pathway for getting involved.

Need a real-world example?

Check out RED, which uses its Instagram feed to popularize products designed to support its cause - the fight to end AIDS:


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Even if your organization hasn’t participated in social in the past, it’s easy to get started. Create and share visual content on a few platforms of your choice, add social sharing buttons to your website and newsletters, and create a hashtag for your app users to interact with.


3. Put the Focus on Relationships

Millennials are famous for their tendency to impulse buy. In a 2016 Gallup poll, 47% of millennials admit to making an impulse purchase, while 39% say they shop for fun.


Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 12.17.12 PM.pngSource: GALLUP

Not surprisingly, millennials donate to NPOs the same way they shop - impulsively.

While this could create a series of challenges for NPOs, there’s a smart way to get around it: build ongoing relationships with the group. That way, you’re top-of-mind the next time they decide to donate.

Wondering how to do this? It’s simple:

Offer volunteer opportunities, keep in touch via an app or unique digital strategy, or offer regular email newsletters. By creating a pathway for relationships to grow, NPOs can stay fresh in the mind of millennials who want to give.


4. Stay in Touch

In 2017, 52% of millennials reported that technology had improved their relationships.

They’re not just talking about face-to-face relationships, though - they also mean their relationships with the brands and organizations they follow.

Thanks to the immediacy of the digital world, it’s easier than ever for millennials to keep up with the NPOs they admire and staying in touch matters to them.

Instead of sending out single holiday card each year, offer ongoing communication in the form of weekly newsletters, email campaigns, or social updates. Millennials crave information, and they want to see what impact their donations are having in the world.

Consider an organization like TOMs shoes, which does this beautifully.

While not a nonprofit, TOMs makes it explicitly clear what happens when someone purchases shoes from them: they give another pair to a person in need


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This keeps cause-minded millennials shopping with them, and is one of the primary reasons this brand has risen to cult-classic status.


Better Engagement Starts Here

As you work toward engaging more closely with millennials, it’s critical to keep the power of mobile platforms in mind. Millennials who can engage with your nonprofit wherever they happen to be - via an app, online donation platform, or streamlined website - are more likely to become longtime supporters than those who have to jump through hoops to reach you.

Remember - build it (and make it easy) and they will come.


Want to learn more about evolving your organization into a digital powerhouse? Contact Creative Science today.



Topics: Non-Profit, Fundraising