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Clients tell us every day that they can’t inspire Millennials to care about their cause.

And every day, we respond with good news: Millennials already care, deeply. They’re just waiting to be engaged.

At DoSomething.org–TMI Strategy’s parent organization and the largest global organization for young people and social change–we track data about over 5.3 million members involved with 275+ causes. We know that Millennials care about virtually every major issue, from animals to education to hunger.

The key question, then, is how do you get them engaged in your cause? The most important factors that influence young people’s benevolent behavior often have nothing to do with the cause itself. For many young people, the time commitment required matters as much, if not more, than the cause itself. Similarly, the action you’re asking them to take is as important as the issue you’re asking them to impact.

Inspiring Millennials to get involved with a specific cause or issue is all about knowing how to engage them.

Focus on the individual

At TMI, we call this principle, “Fight for the User.” This is the engagement tenet that organizations most often forget. When it comes to activating young people, don’t prioritize the actions that you want them to take, but instead focus on the individuals you’re trying to reach and what they feel is impactful.

Millennials feel like they have the ability to make an impact on the causes they care about and can add value to the organizations they believe in. Compared to older generations, however, they believe donating money will have the least impact. Rather than simply writing a check, Millennials want to be actively involved, particularly in ways they can share with others, either online or in person. So whether it’s simple, low-barrier online engagements or interesting and exciting live experiences or skills-based volunteering activities, engaging millennials in a variety of ways is critical. Give young people enough choices so that each individual finds an opportunity that feels meaningful to them.

Use online engagement as a gateway

Actions such as signing online petitions, contacting legislators, and sharing social media posts have given rise to the term “slacktivism”—”feel-good” measures that have little impact other than to make the actor feel satisfied that they have contributed. While the initial effect may be minimal, these actions can serve as an important and appealing introduction to causes for Millennials. The fact that these actions require little time or commitment lend themselves to more impulsive involvement, which is precisely how Millennials often begin cause engagement. These small connections can grow into greater involvement and larger impact down the road.

Create skills-based volunteering opportunities

Like previous generations, Millennials enjoy traditional volunteerism and feel fulfilled by the experience. Because they place such high value on their time, however, Millennials are prone to prioritize accessible, one-time volunteer engagements. Organizations that offer such experiences can then capitalize on these connections to retain Millennial supporters. One way organizations can drive more sustained Millennial volunteerism is by providing opportunities that use Millennials’ talents. The Millennial Impact Report found that 97% of Millennials say they prefer using their individual skills to help a cause, and 77% say they would be more likely to volunteer if they could use their specific skills or expertise.

Drive involvement through experiences

Millennials are more willing to spend their time and money on events or experiences rather than products. The memory itself becomes the product.

Traditional volunteering is not the only experiential way Millennials want to interact with cause. Concerts, art shows, sports, food events, and races all tied to cause are just a few examples of ways that organizations tap into existing passions and drive enthusiasm for their missions and impact. Millennials are almost twice as likely to participate in these types of events than older generations.

Leverage peer pressure

Human behavior is not always driven by altruistic motivations–even for service-driven activities like volunteering. DoSomething.org has found that, for Millennials, having friends that volunteer regularly is nearly twice as important as having the ability to work on an issue they care about deeply.

The Millennial Impact Report confirmed the importance of peer influence and community, noting that 78% of Millennials say they prefer doing cause work in groups vs. 22% who prefer doing cause work individually. In addition, 65% of Millennial employees said they were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated. Peer pressure works!

Key takeaways

  • Provide a range of opportunities, from online calls-to-action to memorable experiences, to involve Millennials and cultivate those supporters into donors over time.
  • Connect Millennials to skills-based volunteer experiences.
  • Design programs and craft messaging that highlights peer involvement and facilitates community-building.

Millennials care about your cause. You’ve just got to connect with them in the ways that they want to contribute.