Do NGOs need to communicate better..?

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There is much debate among the philanthropic circles about NGO communications. The view largely seems to be that NGOs need to do much more to get across to their supporters and constituencies. While mostly the donor and the NGO opinion is that they are largely satisfied with the work being done, what is being missed is “impact” reporting… how lives have been changed due to our interventions, so says the Indian Philanthropy Report – 2013 prepared by Bain & Company.

The bone of contention between NGOs and donors could well be this point – for there are many complexities on the ground and impacts are not always directly attributable to our interventions and far less measurable in many cases. The classical “organisational” donors who have been around for quite a while may well understand the challenges that NGOs face. But with the younger, newer generation emerging as the new donors, is the situation likely to be the same?

Emerging trends in giving suggest that the younger generations will have a far different approach and method of giving. They are more likely need to be inspired and will want to know how their gift is making a difference. They are also much less likely to use traditional channels of giving, preferring to donate and support online. They are also most likely to check out the websites of NGOs to understand their work better. This is not really surprising as the medium of communication has so much diversified and boomed.

The Millenial Impact Report released by the Millenial Impact Project has some interesting insight for us NGOs. The report provides results from an extensive study of more than 6,500 millenials (defined as those within the age-group of 25-30) on how they learn, connect and give to causes and non-profits. The key findings were:

75% said they gave a financial gift to a nonprofit in 2011 – For decades, nonprofits have largely disregarded younger generations in the belief they don’t give. Results from this report throw that theory out the window. In fact, millennials are willing to give to causes they are passionate about.

70% said they gave online through a nonprofit’s website – Millennials made donations online twice as often as in person or through the mail. A clear reason why the website may be more important than we thought.

65% prefer to learn about nonprofits from their websites – The first contact a large number of individuals have with your organization comes from your website. How good is our website..?

47% prefer to get nonprofit info in email newsletters – Millennials value email communication from nonprofits if it tells them what they want to know. So what is that? News, Events and Volunteer Opportunities. Survey respondents said they want e-newsletters to be easy to sign up for on nonprofit websites, they want to be told up front what kind of information they will receive

79% of smartphone owners said they have connected with a nonprofit via smartphone – The prominence of smartphone usage is making a mobile strategy more critical than ever for nonprofits – and mobile now means more than just texting. Millennials are using their smartphones to view websites, gather information and, in some cases, make donations.

67% have interacted with a nonprofit on Facebook – Millennials who have established relationships with nonprofits said they are willing to spread the word about worthy nonprofits, and they like to use Facebook for that purpose. So, don’t be in a hurry to dismiss social media as just-another-baby-pics-swapping-medium.

81% prefer to learn about volunteer opportunities from friends or family members – It’s a tried and true form of marketing, and still the best way to reach people: word of mouth. Like their older counterparts, millennials prefer to connect with nonprofit organizations through information, events or opportunities provided by friends or family.

48% said they prefer volunteer activities that use their education, background or expertise – The one-size-fits-all volunteering approach is not the most effective way to reach millennials. Instead, nearly half of respondents prefer to volunteer in a way that taps into their knowledge or professional experience. They want more personalized volunteer opportunities, where they feel like they can make a greater impact.

70% of millennials surveyed said they have raised money on behalf of nonprofits – 84% said they typically call on friends when they’re fundraising, and 80% reach out to their extended families. And if not in cash, they have done it in kind by setting up online funding opportunities for their causes.

The internet has opened a channel for communication between nonprofits, causes and the young, emerging supporters. It is upto us now to reinvent our communications to suit the more contemporary needs. Print and publications are likely to be passé and it would be transmedia communications that will be the future… more likely is already the present!

So, are we ready..?

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