The World’s Top Expert on Gen Y Engagement for Nonprofits Comes to Wellington!

Get a Sneak Peek at the Insights Derrick Feldmann will be Sharing

FINZ is thrilled that Derrick Feldmann, the world’s foremost expert on helping charities connect with Gen Y (a.k.a. Millennials), will be at the FINZ 2015 Conference to share his tricks of the trade with Kiwi fundraisers. Hailing from the USA, Derrick is looking forward to making his first trip to New Zealand. Learning from Derrick will be a phenomenal opportunity for any charity looking to create or boost their Gen Y strategy.

FINZ: You will present a master class on 11 May entitled, ‘Designing Targeted Gen Y Activation and Fundraising Campaigns.’ We often hear that Gen Y isn’t worth focussing our fundraising efforts on — that the most loyal and biggest givers tend to be women over the age of 55. Are Gen Yers opening their wallets and it’s just flying under the radar? Or is there truth to this perception?

Yes and no. If you look at the donations being made today, it is true that individuals in Generation Y don’t give as much or as often as individuals over the age of 40. However, there are thousands of organisations who raise significant amounts of money from Gen Y donors – such as Pencils of Promise, Liberty in North Korea and Charity: Water. The American Cancer Society, for example, raises about $45 million from this segment of donors. Do other generations currently give more? Yes. But to say Gen Y doesn’t give at all would be false. Look at them as you would any other demographic and you’ll find that Gen Y volunteers and donors can be an organisation’s best asset.

When speaking to Gen Y are there any absolute don’ts – specific words or phrases to be avoided at all costs?

Just like any other potential donor, individuals in Gen Y respond better to emotional appeals and stories. Make it personal and avoid high-level nonprofit industry phrases that can come across as vague and carry no meaning — words and phrases like ‘sustainability’ or ‘community initiative.’ Also, if you’re trying to target a younger audience, you want to try and eliminate any potential barriers, such as expensive tickets to fundraising events or long-term volunteer commitments.

We’ve heard it said that Gen Y can be ‘slacktivists’ – people who take superficial actions for good causes but are mostly motivated by their own egos. Do you think there is any truth to this and if so how can we move slacktivists to true activists?

Every person, no matter their age, has their own way of expressing their interest in a cause and sharing that interest externally with their friends and loved ones. Liking a Facebook post or Tweeting a link is an expression of interest; I don’t view it as slacktivism. Now, after they’ve expressed their interest, moving them to take action takes a little more work from the organisation. Your goal is to draw them in deeper. If a Millennial likes your organisation’s page, get them to share more and give them resources to advocate for your cause. Don’t play into the ‘slacktivist’ role by only asking for likes and retweets.

You want real authentic supporters? Give them steps to get there. Ask them to sign a petition. Next, ask them to organise an online or in-person group. Give them the tools and motivation to start peer-to-peer fundraising. Once they’re more invested, they will grow into long-term donors.

Without giving too much away, could you let us know a practical tip or two your master class attendees will be able to take away and start using when they get back to the office?

Millenials treat all assets as equals. In this session we’ll explore these assets (time, money, expertise, network) and discuss the steps that lead a Millennial from following an organisation on Twitter to making a monthly donation. The real challenge here is learning how to see assets like network, time and expertise as having equal value. But that’s what we have to do in order to understand and engage this generation.

For fundraisers who are facing scepticism from their CEOs or boards about developing their Gen Y engagement strategy, do you have any persuasive arguments they can use?

I think Gen Y’s spending power alone is something organisations at any level can’t ignore. In the United States alone, Millennials spend $300 billion annually on consumer and discressionary goods! All of that money is going somewhere, mostly to consumer purchases, but we can develop strategies to harness that spending power for the nonprofit sector. Also, Millennials are proven in their pursuasive power of getting their peers and connections in other generations to engage and donate to a cause. Beyond all of that, investing in strategies that target Gen Y is inclusive and recognises Millennials as the next generation of long-term, big-gift supporters.

What would you say are the two biggest mistakes you see charities make when trying to formulate a Gen Y strategy?

One of the biggest mistakes an organisation can make is focusing only on an online strategy when targeting Gen Y. Our research has shown that Millennials, like all donors, react to print deliverables as well as online tactics. The other mistake organisations make is focusing only on Millennials in general. As nonprofits, we have to figure out what we’re trying to accomplish and how all of our donors play into that.

Your plenary is entitled, ‘Cause for Change.’ What topics will attendees hear you address?

In the time we’re together, we’ll see how Millennial consumer spending habits influence their cause engagement practices. We will discuss the roles of digital vs. in-person organisation and how taking small actions for a cause will eventually lead to higher levels of involvement.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us and we’re very much looking forward to seeing you in Wellington in May.

At the FINZ 2015 Conference this 11 – 13 May in Wellington, Derrick will present his master class ‘Designing Targeted Gen Y Activation and Fundraising Campaigns’ as well as the session ‘Next Gen Fundraising Benchmarks – How to Measure Next Gen Fundraising Campaigns’ and the closing plenary ‘Cause for Change.’ 


World’s Top Expert on Gen Y Engagement for Nonprofits



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