Let’s be clear right from the start – I’m not saying we should ignore the Millennials, I’m saying ignore the hoo-hah. If you are not sure what hoo-hah means (and I’m not talking about any meaning you would find in an urban slang dictionary!), my mom used it in a sentence the other day when we were out shopping for speakers for her computer.
She told the salesperson she wanted just the speakers without all the hoo-hah (the sub-woofer, remote control, bells & whistles.) Without all the noisy commotion or fuss.
Everywhere I look I see articles about Millennials and all the stuff we need to be doing now now now or we will regret it.
And frankly I’m a little tired of all the Millennial fuss. And here are my top reasons to ignore all that fuss:
There are more Millennials but not really that much more.
U.S. Census 2010
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 46-64 (49 – 67 in 2013) 81,489,445
Generation X 1964 – 1982 28-46 (31 – 49 in 2013) 61,032,615
Millennials 1982 – 2004 6-28 (9 – 31 in 2013) 100,057,508
A significant portion of those Millennials are between the ages of 9 and 18.
Chances are, you don’t need to target children and teenagers. Only 65% of those 100 million plus Millennials are over 18; picture a big car company developing an ad campaign targeted at 12 year olds in anticipation of them buying a car in the future. They are already having problems getting older Millennials to buy cars and they’ve got much bigger budgets than you do.
Marketing dollars need to be spent wisely.
In this economy, your best bet is to spend your marketing dollars FIRST on donors and supporters you already have (see this great infographic on the value of current customers) and SECOND, on ones that are ready to give and have money to spend (like Baby Boomers) and LASTLY on the toughest market to acquire that will cost you more time and money for smaller rewards (like Millennials).
Baby Boomers aren’t even close to dead yet.
Boomers give more total dollars to charity than any other generation, roughly $47 billion a year, according to The Next Generation of American Giving report by Convio, Although boomers head up 38 percent of U.S. households, they’re responsible for 50.3 percent of all charitable contributions.
Boomers dominate charitable giving and will do so for the foreseeable future – Baby Boomers represent the largest donor group numerically, and as a result donate the most dollars to charity (Blackbaud)
Only Planning Will Tell.
Many nonprofits don’t have a development strategy that is perfected enough to retain and grow their current donors, let alone one that targets new donors that are harder to get. The well–functioning fundraising “funnel” requires a plan that includes marketing. According to the 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report from NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, only 1/3 of nonprofit marketers (in their study) have written and approved plans for 2013. Those plans should be in place first to see if targeting Millennials is even a viable option for your nonprofit right now.
Millennials aren’t that much different than 20-somethings from other generations.
Here are some excerpts from the 2013 Millennial Impact report:
“Millennials prefer to connect via technology.”
Of course younger generations will use the latest technology – not sure we needed a report to tell us that!
“Millennials share in micro ways”
I gave when I was in my 20’s (back in the 1980s) and of course it was in smaller amounts – I wasn’t making enough money until my career took off later. And yes – the donations were immediate and impulsive because, well, I was in my 20’s…
“Millennials facilitate (and rely on) peer influence.”
Pretty much like every young generation does – your peers have a much larger influence when you are younger.
I could list everything, but here is a link to the report with an overview from Wild Apricot – and you can see for yourself, that many of these traits just describe typical behaviors of young people in general.
There is a lot of common-sense common ground between the most current generations.
Whatever big shift happened in technology separates the Matures (68+) from the rest of the generations more so than the Millennials. The Baby Boomers, Gen-xers and Milennials share lots of common ground with their dislike of telemarketing, their use of newer technology, and their desire to see impact and support causes rather than institutions. They all like to give through websites and through their work and with in-kind donations. Check out this Infographic – The Next Generation of American Giving.
If you are going to pull anything out of all those Millennial articles, pull out the fact that nonprofits need to start to shift away from the old strategies that worked well with Matures and toward modern technology tools that work well for all the other generations – without completely disengaging any current or potential supporters.
Treating Millennials as a problem to solve just causes more problems.
Millennials are treated as this mysterious intriguing problem and that if we can just figure out that magic formula that will get them involved that we’ve found the holy grail. It’s really misleading and can be potentially detrimental to the health and well-being of a nonprofit if they put all their eggs in the Millennial basket. There is a risk of spending too much time and energy on solving a problem that may or may not be directly relevant.
One Last Thought
If Millennials are allegedly self-centered, isn’t it just crazy to talk about them all the time and blow up their self-importance even more?