Targeting Charitable Marketing Campaigns to Millennials:  Tips from the Front Line

Targeting Charitable Marketing Campaigns to Millennials:  Tips from the Front Line

Perri Robinson
27 August 2015

I read an article on Friday about a distressing case of animal cruelty. Being the animal lover that I am, it didn’t take long for me to reach for my bank card, donate, and spread the word on social in hope that my community would do the same.

As profiling goes, I am a millennial, (and in this case) I successful fall into the generalised and researched description of behaviours, habits, and values shared by this age group. Supporting Barkley Agency research on millennial profiling, I have strong ethics when it comes to fair trade, human/ animal rights, and concerns over the future of our planet. And like many other millennials, including those surveyed by Social Chorus, I often donate to causes that move me. Such characteristics of millennials make them a very lucrative market for charities, and as such many charities have their marketing campaigns firmly fixed on this group.

Social Chorus also reports that traditional forms of marketing are not nearly as effective on media savvy millennials, charities are therefore forced to adapt their marketing campaigns to appeal to this generation, my generation. And so from Marketer to marketer and millennial to marketer, I highlight key ways charitable marketing campaigns should adapt to better appeal to millennials. I call this “tips from the front line.”

Change the wording of marketing campaigns

Millennials like to feel involved in their investments, both financially and emotionally. Changing the wording of our marketing campaigns from “donate” to “invest” completely shifts the connotation. Investments empower the audience, allowing them to feel a sense of ownership over the cause. Investments imply an ongoing relationship, going beyond “drop a pound in the tin and best be having you.” One reason for the success of many crowd funding marketing campaigns (both charitable and non-charitable) is the fact that they offer the audience the chance to become a part of something, be it a community who shares similar beliefs or an idea that they are helping bring to reality.

Content is key

Speaking of stories, it’s important to know that millennials are not investing in the charity, they’re investing in the story told about its cause. I have no idea what the charity I last donated to was called; all I care about is the fact that they’re saving the monkeys. This is a prime example of why charities should push stories that explain what investments can do for the cause. Speak in literal terms, ie. £8,000 allowed the monkeys to be fed for 3 months. This made me feel that the charity is trustworthy and authentic as they’re being transparent and realistic about the extent of what the donation can do. More so than this, stories are created to be told. Social Chorus reports that 95% of millenials say that friends are the most credible source of information, so it’s our job to encourage them to buy into the story so that our audience becomes our medium.

Community really does matter to marketing campaigns

According to The Marketer, 76% of millennials own smart phones worldwide. We’re glued to them. We can’t put them down. What if we fall behind in our group WhatsApp messages or something? We’re constantly connected to our digital communities and have so many platforms at our fingertips to connect with them that resisting this is difficult. With this in mind, marketing campaigns should be created for mobile first to reach a millennial audience. Since social media is the main vehicle for millennials, we recommend focusing charitable marketing campaigns on Facebook due to its storytelling characteristics. Moreover, by adding a hashtag to marketing campaigns, the audience can identify the story and its supporters with ease. Hashtags are also useful in causing shock wave effects whereby members of the community want to find out more as to why their friends are all posting a certain update.