Why your focus should be on millenials

Why your focus should be on millenials

Gary Kernahan | 24 May 2018

Innovation is, rightly, high on the agenda for many charities at the moment. The need for the services and support provided has never been greater but neither has the challenge of raising the funds required to provide them.


To meet this challenge, many organisations are looking to engage with new audiences and, for many, the millennial generation is that audience.

We rarely hear positive things about millennials. I would argue that there are a lot of misunderstandings about this generation.

One of the more common is that millennials are just entering the workplace – that is not true. Millennials have been entering the workplace for more than a decade and now account for 29% of the UK workforce.

Another common misunderstanding is that this generation don’t or can’t give. They can and do. A recent study from Barclays found that under 35s are now giving more than over 55s, it’s just that their charitable giving is a little different.

There are some commonalities with members of this generation. For example, they are the first digitally native generation who have become accustomed to having ever-available access to information. Some studies have found that on average millennials spend 25 hours per week online and that the average attention span is 8-15 seconds. It means marketing efforts have to be short, sweet and impactful.

There are 14 million people in the UK, approximately 21% of the population, born into the millennial generation. These people will cut across different social and economic classes making it impossible to develop a fundraising proposition that will engage with them all. It is, however, possible to engage with a segment and this is where fundraisers should expend their efforts.

During my fundraising career, I have learned the hard way that product development must start with the audience and that the activity comes second. Now that sounds simple but some charities are still guilty of developing a new initiative and then trying to find an audience for it.

So, for anyone who wishes to develop a fundraising event or campaign to engage millennials my advice would be:

1. Be clear on the rationale. Why are you innovating? Who is the innovation targeted at? How does this idea help the organisation achieve its strategy? And crucially, will it appeal to supporters?

2. Use existing research to build your general understanding about members of this generation and then add to this by speaking to people who might be your target audience. This process will help you focus on the target audience and will generate some very helpful insights.

3. Use the insights to shape your ideas and then test those ideas with a sample audience.

4. If the pilot is successful then roll the idea out, if not make some revisions and test again.

Gary Kernahan, Consultant at THINK



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