Vicky Browning: Keep it trendy when speaking to Generation Y

Fundraising communications need to hook young people in by taking advantage of their selfishness, writes the director of CharityComms

I enjoyed a breakout session at the 2016 Institute of Fundraising Convention on how to engage young fundraisers, presented by vInspired and Step Up To Serve. The session featured a panel of three staggeringly committed, engaged and articulate young fundraisers (speaking as a mother of teenagers who seem suddenly to have lost the ability to be any one of those things, let alone all three).

I was struck by the simple advice they offered charities on how to encourage other young folk to develop the fundraising habit. It relates directly to the way we both communicate and interact with this audience:

1)      Make it fun, trendy and inspirational

2)      Help them feel part of the bigger picture of the charity’s work

3)      Help them with professional development

4)      Say thank you.

Millennials, or Generation Y, are sometimes described as demonstrating "good selfishness": they may engage with charities (or businesses) which "do good" to feel good about themselves, or to be seen by their peers as good people, or to grasp an opportunity to make a genuine difference. The first two and last items on the shopping list above directly address all these factors.

The third adds an element of "utility": something that’s directly in it for them. If engaging with charities can help young people with their future careers, that’s a massive incentive for a generation who’ve grown up in an age of austerity and insecurity.

As digital natives, Generation Y expects relationships with organisations and brands that are responsive, personalised, authentic and beneficial. The way we communicate with them should reflect those expectations.

Vicky Browning is director of CharityComms

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