The Nonprofit Marketer's Guide to the Millennial Persona

Taylor Corrado
Taylor Corrado



donate-button-clickIf your organization is engaging Millennials through content that’s based on their likes and dislikes, age, gender, jobs, brands they follow, stores they shop at, and ways they learn about and give to an organization, both online and offline, then you can stop reading and go get a cup of coffee.

If you haven’t come up with a donor persona for Millennials and aren't practicing inbound marketing to engage these tech-savvy Generation Y members, though, then keep reading. The reason? Because these young adults have shown a strong willingness in recent years to back causes they believe in -- meaning they're a prime demographic that could help your organization achieve its goals.

To give you a clear idea of what your donor persona for this generation of volunteers and supporters should look like, let's look at an example persona detailing the background, likes, interests, and past nonprofit work of a Millennial I know pretty well: me.

An Example of a Millennial Persona

Below, you'll find a comprehensive profile based on myself to give you an idea of who your organization can and should be targeting.

Now, this is by no means an absolute definition of the ideal Millennial your organization should be marketing to. What this example can do, though, is give you a glimpse into what a Millennial profile looks like, which can then inform how you develop your marketing strategy to reach these younger folks.

Based on answers I've provided to questions featured in a previous post on how to create a persona using in-person interviews, here is my persona profile:

Persona Name: "Techy Taylor"


  • Graduate of Northeastern University; studied communications and business
  • Four-time online fundraiser
  • Current nonprofit marketer at technology company in Massachusetts


  • Female
  • Age: 25
  • Income between: $40,000- $75,000
  • Location: Urban


  • Enthusiastic personality
  • Tech-savvy (personally and professionally)
  • On Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • Gets news from New York Times and Huffington Post
  • Active lifestyle (cyclist and rock climber)
  • Shops online (preferred stores: Anthropologie, Zara, Gap, Amazon)

Preferred Means to Interact With Organizations

  • Likes to give online and/or fundraise; rarely gives via check or cash
  • Follows several organizations on social media (mostly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram)
  • Will look for organizational information on a charity’s website or through word-of-mouth from a friend
  • Will participate/fundraise in endurance events (i.e. cycling, 5Ks)

Previously Supported Organizations

  • charity: water
  • Crohn's and Colitis Foundation
  • Krempels Center
  • American Lung Association

From this profile, your organization can understand how I like to give or fundraise, where I find my information, what other organizations I’ve supported in the past, and what type of lifestyle I live. Most of this information you can easily find online, but you can also capture this data from current constituents between the ages of 18-32 in focus groups, phone interviews, or even through a simple online survey.

How to Connect With Millennials

Now that you know what a rough example of a Millennial persona looks like, you must understand where they are looking for information, how they use social media (including which channels), and -- most importantly -- what connects them to a cause and why they care so much to take action and support it in order to create a comprehensive persona.

Millennials, like myself, are looking for a few important things when supporting or engaging with an organization:

They want to get their hands dirty.

Hannah Ackerman, a Millennial HubSpotter and Co-Founder of the Stahili Foundation in Kenya, says, "I've found that Millennials are more willing than any other generation to be first in line to volunteer their time." If volunteering is available through your organization, let these young philanthropists go out in the field and see where the impact is actually happening, whether domestic or abroad.

They want to gain professional experience.

Internships are a dime a dozen, but contributing to the success of an organization by using their current skills -- from accounting, to marketing, to writing -- can provide Millennials not only a great personal experience, but also an insightful professional one. Plus, this generation knows that philanthropic efforts on their resumes can help them secure jobs down the line, so remember that they're just as career-oriented as older generations when putting your persona together.

They want to be able to share information socially.

Data has shown that 50% of Millennials share information about charities they support with their Facebook friends, according to a recent Blackbaud study. Your next prospective advocate/donor is very likely the social friend of a current constituent. So, make it easy for them to share images, videos, and results of the organization's work via your website or social accounts.

They want to be recognized for hard work.

Anum Hussain, another Millennial HubSpotter and Director of Marketing at MIST, sums up how her organization tailored its marketing for members of Generation Y.

"Millennials want to be recognized, and our marketing efforts [as an organization] need to capitalize on this to help drive activity. So, when formulating our Facebook strategy, we put a strong focus on photographing all our events so students can see high-quality photos of themselves participating and be able to show off the action shots of them on their on walls. Also, when launching promotional videos, we try to incorporate B-roll from our events so students can feel a sense of fame. And when revamping our website (still in progress), we put an emphasis on having a 'Hall of Fame' for student recognition."

However you decide to capture this information about your Millennial donor base, just know doing so will help you create an effective marketing strategy that can engage Millennials and turn them into donors, fundraisers, event registrants, members volunteers and organizational advocates.

How does your organization engage Millennials?

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