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As a communications major, there are many phrases and reminders that have been drilled into my head. One has always stood out to me in particular: know your target audience.

How do you expect to inspire action in a group of people you don’t know? You can’t. But, identifying them is only half the battle. You also have to figure out how to get their attention and communicate with them. Seems easy enough, right?

Kathleen Kelly Janus recently wrote the article Three Ways to Engage Millennial Donors. Janus points out that in order for non-profits to be successful, they must communicate to both younger and older donors alike. Therefore, Millennials have become an important target audience. So, how can we reach this pesky group of twenty-somethings that we don’t actually know?

Somehow, (thanks mom and dad) I myself ended up in this group of Generation Y humans. And even though we might seem threatening, with our supreme knowledge of Instagram filters and fingers that type faster than we talk, there are ways to reach us and influence us to use our skills for the greater good:

Keep those involved updated.

It’s important to let supporters know the impact their involvement has on your mission. Millennials want to know that their time, money and attention matter. Let them know the specific way their involvement effected your organization – what was the outcome of their donation, how many people benefitted, what happened. This will keep them interested, and it will keep them coming back for other opportunities to help your cause.

Maybe you’ll show supporters your appreciation by writing them a handwritten card — a thank you that never goes out of style.

Go to them.

If you want to get Millennials involved with your organization, don’t wait for them to find you. If you know that your target audience spends a lot of time in a specific place (a park, a city corner, a specific online platform, etc.) find a creative way to reach them on their turf. Honest Tea recently did this in Dupont Circle by setting up unmanned crates of tea to see if people would pay when no one was watching. By showing up where their audience was, they spread their name among their target audience. Their creative idea entered into their audience’s natural habitat, and caught peoples’ attention.

Look good on the web.

I am not saying this just because openbox9 does web design, I’m just an intern, but your presence on the internet matters. Millennials spend exorbitant amounts of time on a slew of social media platforms and just browsing the web. Your website is as important to Millennials as a handshake was to past generations. As a Millennial, my reaction to a page that hasn’t been updated in the past month, is to click away (especially in the case of social media sites). If a website has a hideous, confusing layout, I click away (I can almost always find my information elsewhere). And if there are no pictures, I almost always click away (no one likes text overloads). Investing in looking good on the web is worth it because people don’t follow organizations that just bog down their newsfeeds.

Here is an example of a poorly designed website. No one is going to want to spend time on this thing!
Here is an example of a well-designed website! Clean, simple and easy! (We may or may not have designed it.)

There is obviously no 10-step guide guaranteeing Millennials involvement with a non-profit, but by strategically targeting this group, their resources can be tapped and their energy and passion used to further change!

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