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Harnessing the Power of the Millennial Generation Through Crowdfunding
© Image: Shutterstock / Mastepanov Pavel
editorial

Harnessing the Power of the Millennial Generation Through Crowdfunding

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Cori Snedecor, co-founder of recently-launched environmental crowdfunding platform WorthWild.com. Snedecor discusses the importance of wooing the Millenial generation when running a crowdfunding campaign.

The Millennial generation (ages 18 to 35) is viewed as a struggling one, burdened by student-loan debt and soaring unemployment rates. Often referred to as the “Me Generation,” Millennials are sometimes represented as selfish, living at home with their parents, and unwilling to participate in society.

What is often overlooked, however, is the tremendous power this generation wields: their social consciousness, their global connectedness, and the fact that they’re already shaping the future right before our eyes.

Let’s talk about power: Macy’s has estimated Millennials’ spending power to be in the realm of $65 billion per year, and according to Accenture, they are expected to inherit $30 billion from their Baby Boomer parents in the years to come. By 2017, this generation is expected to be spending in excess of $200 Billion annually.

And how will they spend that bounty? Well, there are smartphones, and tablets, and gadgets (oh my!), but some things shine even more brightly: social causes, innovation, and charitable giving. This generation ardently hopes to influence positive change in the world, and is just beginning to find the way.

According to research by Achieve Guidance, 83 percent of Millennials donated money to an organization in 2012. At 86 million strong, this group will continue to make an impact and set trends for others to follow. A generation consumed with social responsibility, they are quick to process and poised to act.

If you want to see your organization or company thriving in twenty years, there's no escaping the obvious: Millennials (and their successors) are your essential market. The question is: how do you grab their attention? One solution is to connect with them through social media, and for organizations interested in compelling the next generation to give to their specific cause or needs, crowdfunding is the answer.

Fueled by a sense of global community, social influence, and video technology, crowdfunding offers young philanthropists quick summaries, transparent goals, and the promise of tangible outcomes that aid them in making informed decisions in a fast-paced world.

Bridging the gap

Crowdfunding is the perfect way to engage a younger audience in an organization or business’s growth. While it takes work to create an engaging campaign, most organizations expect to put out the required effort to get their messages heard. Millennials are a wired generation and as such prefer to avoid door-to-door fundraisers and phone solicitation (most Millennials don’t even own a home phone).

But a rousing online campaign that involves a minimal contribution with maximum impact, well, that’s power, and that’s where people want to jump in and be a part of something bigger.

Where previous generations were more comfortable giving in person, Millennials are more comfortable giving to a website, with the answers to all of their questions right at their fingertips. What else do we know about millennial-aged philanthropists?

  • They are tech-savvy, and expect giving to be fast and easy.
  • They want to donate to a specific cause, not to a specific organization.
  • They want transparency about where their money goes.
  • They want to be able to donate spontaneously, in smaller amounts to many different organizations.
  • They want to see the impact their donation has made, see the people it has affected, and know the stories behind the projects they helped succeed.
  • They want to share the causes they believe in with their friends and families, and often do so through social media.

Do you see where we’re going with this? Use crowdfunding to engage a mass audience, especially the young seekers who want a better world and are looking for ways to make that happen. Crowdfunding makes small, spontaneous donations quick and easy, while providing a space to specify a project or initiative for which the money will be used. A storytelling platform for organizations, it informs supporters about how their single contribution makes an impact. Even if you’re looking for awareness more than donations, crowdfunding is an indispensable engagement tool for this generation.

Given the ease of sharing on social media, and its popularity with Millennials, crowdfunding is a simple way to engage and energize this generation in industries that are traditionally less inclined to embrace technology.

As co-founder of WorthWild.com, a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for environmental initiatives, I’m shocked by how many organizations have overlooked opportunities to involve younger generations. Admittedly, technology sometimes gets a bad rap in certain environmental industries, but it’s time to embrace it as a tool to involve Millennials, an often underrepresented demographic. After all, they are the future. If we don’t engage them now, we may be missing a big opportunity.

Despite what the media says, this is not a “Me Generation” when it comes to social good. This is a generation looking for a new way to make the biggest possible impact on environmental and social issues by involving friends, family, cohorts, and fellow-believers.

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