All charities are trying to figure out how to capture the attention of the next generation of donors and volunteers.   Heads of charities know that in most cases their support base is made up of aging baby boomers who want to leave the world a better place and have the means to make a difference.   The question is how to get the “Millennial Generation” to buy in and want to get involved?   As a Professor and Program Coordinator, I interact with dozens of millennials every day.

Many millennials I speak with cite three main reasons for not getting involved, they say:

  1. I have little disposable income
  2. I am too busy with school, work, and play
  3. There will be time to help out people in need when I get older

I appreciate the fact that many millennials are cash strapped and are very busy moving their careers and lives forward.   I also understand that part of human nature is to procrastinate and push off things, especially when we aren’t comfortable getting involved.

So, how do we get millennials to jump in and get involved and why should they are this point in their lives?  I organize many fundraising events in Ottawa Canada for an amazing cause – children affected by AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The American Foundation for Children with AIDS and the Canadian Foundation for Children with Aids are sister organizations that are devoted to providing critical support to infected and affected HIV+ children and their caregivers.  AFCA & CFCA’s efforts are transforming lives in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and every US & Canadian dollar raised has a tremendous impact in the countries we serve.

Sounds like a great cause and one worth supporting, yet why are young people reluctant to get involved? I have found that millennials will contribute as long as you:

  1. Prove that the investment of time and money is actually going to make an impact and not drop into a “black hole” with no accountability.  When I demonstrate that over 93% of what AFCA and CFCA generates in donations flows directly into programs and we audit all programs, this breaks down a key barrier.
  2. Make it feasible for them to donate small amounts and use on-line giving platforms as the means to donate.
  3. Demonstrate how a few hours of volunteer time can really help the success of a fundraising event.
  4. Build your fundraising events so they will allow the millennials to network and socialize.

A few years ago I met W. Brent Wilson, at an event at Algonquin College in Ottawa.  Brent is a very successful Canadian Business person, investor, andphilanthropist who discovered the immense transformational power of supporting causes. Brent told a gathering of over 700 students, faculty, and staff at the College that every young person needs to embrace the importance of marketing, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.  I then read Brent’s amazing book: Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes.  Brent shared many life lessons and he detailed ways that people can make an impact in so many ways!

I have devoted the last 20 plus years to helping others in need.  My only regret is that I should have started much earlier; this would have multiplied the impact!   I realize now that when I was younger I had more time, more energy, and more flexibility to help others and use my involvement to network personally and professionally. I hope that once you have read this blog post you will decide to get involved. Whether you are a millennial or know a millennial, don’t let the excuses of no time, no money, and no need get in the way of giving!   AFCA offers a wonderful set of ways you can get involved including our “Vacation with a Purpose”, “Climb Up so Kids Can Grow Up” adventure, and many local and national fundraising events including #PassMyPlate, which teaches you to live on a budget for a week, while helping others.  Millennials, if you want to help, I am sure our charity or another will be thrilled to get you involved.  Just do it now!!