Magnificent Millennials: Changing the World
I attended the Peer-to-Peer Forum in Atlanta last week. Per usual, there was a lot of buzz and conversation about how to engage millennials. I asked Vickie Lobello, Turnkey’s lead strategist, to share her thoughts about how and why to work with this group.
I am a seasoned veteran of peer-to peer-fundraising of 30 years with American Cancer Society Relay For Life and St. Baldrick’s Foundation. During my career, I have worked at an executive leadership level and in the field.
I am have also had the opportunity to work with millennials in both staff and volunteer capacities. Additionally, I am a parent of two children who are firmly in this age group.
If you Google the word “millennial,” you’ll find articles, blog posts and studies that leave the impression that this massive class of 20-somethings and 30-somethings is narcissistic, entitled and lazy.
I know this group is going to change the nonprofit world in incredible ways. Their enthusiasm and capabilities are significantly different than the generations that came before them, and they are motivated to make the world a better place.
Here are five reasons to work with millennials:
1. Millennials volunteer. In addition, they want to make a difference. Eighty-eight percent of millennial females and 82 percent of millennial males reported that it’s important to be engaged in work that gives back to the community. Consider that this generation values their time as equal to money. If you have millennial volunteers, know that they consider your nonprofit to be of value and worth their time. Those without the means to donate financially also appreciate the opportunity to give through volunteerism, so be sure that your nonprofit gives millennials the chance to do so. These statistics are verified in both a report done by Salesforce and the 2015 Millennial Impact Report.
2. Most millennials donate. It’s easy to overlook millennials as donors because they don’t contribute as much financially as baby boomers and even generation X do today. Slightly over half of millennials (52 percent) donated to a cause affiliated with a social issue in the past month. Additionally, millennials are more likely to increase their giving year-over-year compared with other age groups.
3. Millennials' priorities, in many areas, match those of nonprofits.
4. Millennials get involved in philanthropic causes because they are motivated by service. High-school seniors today are more likely than their predecessors to state that they want to contribute to society.
5. Millennials are spearheading the use of social media for civic engagement, which is reshaping the definition of “community” altogether. Millennials not only use social media to connect people to people, but to connect people to ideas, causes and brands.
Otis Fulton, Ph.D., spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising,” and the 2023 book, "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape," and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” She and Otis are also co-authors of the books, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising" and "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape." When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.