This post is part of our 2016 blog series, The Changing Faces of Philanthropy in the Northwest. All year long we’ll be exploring how the profound changes and contrasts in our demographics, economy, and beliefs are impacting philanthropy in our region. Join the conversation!
Young tech talent is flocking to the Northwest from around the country and world. As Associate Consultant Anna Goren discussed in last month’s post about the fate of local faith-based nonprofits, thanks to the tech boom, our region is “now home to one of the highest concentrations of wealthy millennials in the nation, who are poised to have the largest buying power of any generation in the U.S. by 2017” (Millenial Impact Report). Seattle is now tied for having the fourth highest percentage of “superrich millennials” in the country (Seattle Times). In Portland, tech talent growth is outpacing Silicon Valley (Portland Business Journal).
With all that wealth, tech millennials have the potential to make a significant impact on our community, and the fundraising sector is all abuzz with talk of engagement strategies for this seemingly “elusive” population. As a millennial with many tech millennial friends, I can tell you that they are educated, savvy, smart, and community-minded. All you need is a common sense approach.
6 Ways to Engage Tech Millennials
- Take them seriously, as you would any potential significant donor. Assume they are knowledgeable and aware of issues facing the community.
- Hire millennials. One of the best ways to engage a particular group is to have a member of the group on staff who will bring first-hand knowledge of and insight into the population you’re targeting.
- Emphasize impact. Anna also said this last month but it bears repeating: According to the Millenial Impact Report, “78 percent of millennials were very likely or somewhat likely to stop donating if they didn’t know how the donation was making an impact.” I’d wager the percentage is even higher for tech millennials, who tend to be “investor donors.”
- Let them lead. Millennials are often overlooked for board positions since young people are presumed to have limited experience and connections. On the contrary, millennials—especially ones who work in tech and who live and breathe social media—are probably better connected than the rest of us!
- Develop an outreach strategy to attract them, including volunteer opportunities and targeted events. Newcomers are thirsty for opportunities to meet people, and tech millennials crave something more intellectually stimulating than the local club. Great example: “OMSI After Dark” (think science fair meets beer garden).
- Tap into their intellectual curiosity. Tech people are not just smart; they get truly excited about innovation and creativity. Think of ways to capture the attention of this group and scratch their intellectual itch. Ask your executive director to provide insight on a recent event in the news, or consider hosting a forum with leading experts on a particular mission-related topic.
Tech millennials should be an integral part of fueling your donor pipeline. Make your organization accessible to them, and it will pay off!
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About the Author
Tricia brings her extensive experience in managing everything from the strategy to the nuts and bolts of a project to her work at Collins.