Not long ago I attended a Women in Development of Greater Boston (WID) event, Passé or Sans Pareil? The State of Special Fundraising Events. The focus of the discussion was the question: “Are galas in or out?”
The event drew quite a crowd and was even sold-out! (Insert applause track here). The panel included:
During the discussion someone asked how to gain the interest and involvement of the younger generation, a.k.a. Generation Y, Millennial Generation, my generation. The common issue is the lack of diversity between age groups. For WGBH, as Jeanmarie mentioned, their focus with events is on the older crowd who watches and follows programs on WGBH other than Downtown Abbey. This comment really got me thinking. Now, while I am somewhat guilty of being in that pool of Downton Abbey followers, I do know and enjoy watching other programs on WGBH like Frontline.
There is a stereotype when it comes to my generation. We, the Millennials, are glued to our computer screen, our phone is seen as an extension of our body, where we are constantly tweeting and posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram to brag about our awesome lives. But have you ever really asked what we are scrolling through in our feed? You may be surprised.
My generation is interested in current events. We want to attend talks that feature thought leaders. We are curious about art and culture.
Events take a lot of planning and money. However, my age group enjoys low-key, “come-as-you-are” events. Instead of a fancy meet-and-greet with an author, if you want to engage us twenty-somethings, keep it simple and “chill.”
Back in college, there was a huge volunteer culture. Whether the events happened on campus or off campus, the student body at Union College was thoroughly involved. How did they attract such a large number of students to get involved? They just needed one inspired student. We have a great support system at my alma mater through the Kenney Community Center who really help get the ball rolling. Once one student was inspired, it quickly spread and attracted other students to participate and strengthen the mission. Throw in some free snacks once in a while, and you have yourself an army of Millennials. We travel in groups, so if you get one of us interested, we’re likely to bring our friends along too.
We are the future. So get us involved early. While most of us may not have a lot of money to spare, we are engaged with the world around us and like your non-profit, we want to make the world a better place too. It might be worth thinking about.
Have you ever had an event focused on recruiting the Millennial generation?