For more traditional nonprofits, targeting millennials is an investment in the future instead of a tactic to immediately generate funds.
The Salvation Army, one of the nation’s oldest charities, recently increased its focus on involving young people after a series of focus groups showed that few students in high school and college knew what the organization did.
“It was a hard slap in the face,” says Major George Hood, the Salvation Army’s national community relations and development secretary. “It said to us we’ve got to go to work on this or there’s going to be a day where we will not have any donors left.”
Now the organization hosts an annual concert featuring teen favorites like Owl City and sponsors Red Kettle Clubs for philanthropy in high schools around the country. It also debuted an online Red Kettle for people to launch online fundraisers, which Hood says are popular among their younger donors. All are attempts to help Millennials personally identify with the Salvation Army brand.
“They want that relationship and they want to believe that they’re really making an impact on someone’s life,” he says. “If you can come up with that ingredient, you’re ready to go.”