Customer Experience, Storytelling, Events, Earned Income

Here's How to Let Millennials Roll Up Their Sleeves

Research continues to show that millennials, more than any generation before them, want to pitch in to help in their community as a volunteer. 

I see very few outstanding volunteer experiences offered. And, by the way, you can exchange the word 'volunteer' with 'donor' because these millennials will become your future support base if done properly!

To be clear, while millennials offer a grand opportunity to enrich your operations with non-traditional volunteer roles (think documentary storytelling, social enterprise, street teams) even rote tasks such as cooking, cleaning, sorting donations, and packing boxes can become an outstanding volunteer experience with a few tweaks.

I suggest you consider the following for your volunteer experience:

(1) Are you making it easy for them to find you online? Revise your profile on Google, Yelp, and your own social media to be sure the details are clear.

(2) Once they reach your physical location is it clear where to park, enter the building, and check-in? Consider providing a map.

(3) Train your staff to be outstanding greeters and a resource to direct folks to the bathroom, refreshments, and be able to provide a bit of company history.

(4) Have passive displays to begin educating about your company upon entrance, such as photography with captions or tv's with short but sweet video, or even better touch screen kiosks.

(5) Provide an orientation for volunteers to give context to their service. 

(6) Have mechanisms in place to allow visitors to contribute financially on-site, as well as to leave with a piece of literature or an opt-in text with details about how to donate later.

(7) Also, have a list of top non-financial needs such as gifts-in-kind of volunteer positions you're seeking.

(8) Encourage visitors to post to social media; this doesn't just mean putting the Facebook and Twitter stickers on the wall. Prompt visitors to describe their experience around a specific initiative to provide focus.

(9) Consider employing a gamification element to your volunteer/customer experience, for example, assign points to activities such as volunteering, donating, visits, referrals, etc. and have a recognition display and annual event.

(10) Follow-up with a personal touch, such as a phone call within 48 hours, an email, and automatic inclusion in your monthly email newsletter. 

Millennials want to know how what they're doing or buying fits in the big picture, they want the opportunity to move on to more meaningful activities, they want it to be fun, and they want to be able to keep the conversation going with your organization in a language they understand.

How do I know this? A few data points:

  • I've had over 200 conversations with millennials about this
  • I've completed over 300 volunteer hours with dozens of organizations 
  • I've done dozens of CX assessments on charities (formal and informal)
  • I've designed and executed over 100 volunteer experiences

Plain and simple, if you have a killer volunteer experience millennials will use that on-ramp to become your support base. And, they have a ton to offer in the way of skills, social capital, and yes, financial resources too.

I will be so bold to say that your ability to attract, meaningfully engage, and keep up a conversation with millennials is the single most important issue facing your charity today with regards to your future support base.