Millennials Online: Confirming and Refuting the Stereotypes

Millennials Online: Confirming and Refuting the Stereotypes

With the recent release of Achieve’s excellent Millennial Impact Report, we couldn’t help but think a little more about the millennial generation – what we know about how they interact with technology, and what we think we know about how they interact with technology. This generation is incredibly important for the long-term health of non-profit organizations, so we better figure out how we can best engage them.

Before we dive in, let’s take a step back and quickly talk about who millennials are. Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are typically defined as being born in the early 1980s up to the late 1990s. In our Next Generation of Canadian Giving report we define them as being born between 1981-1991. For Achieve’s report, they define a millennial as someone born between 1979-1994.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…


Let’s start with something we know for sure: millennials are in love with their mobile devices. Did you know that 51% of millennials have admitted to using their phone in the bathroom[1]? Now that’s dedication! The relationship that millennials have with their mobile devices means that it’s increasingly (if not absolutely) vital for your organization to have an optimized mobile presence. It’s the only way to ensure you engage this demographic rather than scare them away. More about optimizing your mobile presence through responsive design here.


The idea that email is somehow becoming irrelevant or even less important seems to persist. But it just isn’t true. In a recent study, 68% of millennials said they check their email on their phone every hour[2].  Your email better be optimized for mobile devices to ensure that it gets read. Equally important is to think about the mobile user’s experience once they’ve clicked through from your email. If your landing page isn’t mobile-optimized, you’ve wasted a click!

Social Media

While it’s true that the millennial generation is extremely active on social media, 140 characters, a nice picture with a witty caption or a little status update is simply not enough to satiate millennials’ appetite for information. The Achieve study heard over and over again from users that organizations’ social media presences left them wanting more information on what the organization does and its impact. Remember that fundraising and storytelling go hand-in-hand. Don’t neglect to focus on personal stories and positives when posting across social media. Posting repetitive or overly dry content can be worse than not posting at all.

Millennials as Technology Wizards

A common misconception is that because this generation grew up using the internet they must be “power users” who are so comfortable with technology that you don’t need to worry about optimizing the experience for them. That is not the case. As the invaluable Nielsen Norman Group points out (speaking about college students specifically), this generation still prefers familiar user interface styles and concise content over fancy multimedia and overly “designed” websites[3].

If your organization is struggling to engage younger donors or would like to put a strategy in place for cultivation, feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to stay tuned for our Next Generation of Canadian Giving report. It’s coming soon and has invaluable insights into the minds of donors across generations!

posted on Aug 20

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