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The millenial issue: how charities can connect and make an impact

The millenial issue: how charities can connect and make an impact

Millenials get a fairly bad rep in today’s media. We’re all aware of the widely purported stereotype: a self-centered and entitled generation with a penchant for self promotion on social media and a reluctance to buckle down to a hard days work.

Sigh.

You’d be forgiven, then, for assuming that millennials are not pre-disposed to charitable giving. Even if you don’t buy into the above stereotype (good for you), there is no escaping the fact that millennials are, if nothing else, fairly strapped for cash and often struggling with large amounts of student debt.

Taking this into account it seems surprising that, contrary to the above, a hefty 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2016 according the the Millennial Impact Report.

In addition to this Blackbaud’s Annual Giving report states that overall giving grew by 1% in 2016 and, on average, millennials gave an average of $481 annually.

So, if the impulse to give is there, why is it that many charities find themselves struggling to connect with this audience?

Getting online

Millennials are a huge disruptor in the world of charitable giving. The same annual giving report that identified the growth in overall giving also identified a 7.9% increase in online donations in 2016 with #GivingTuesday online donations increasing by 20% over the same year. It also found that nearly 17% of all online donations were made on a mobile device.

It’s an online world and the growth of platforms such as JustGiving and crowdfunding sites along with online charity iniatives from #charitytuesday to social media campaigns such as the infamous ice bucket challenge only proves this further.

With that in mind it feels particularly shocking that during a recent in-house study conducted by Charity Checkout of 500 recently registered charities from May/June 2016, it was found that only 60% had a functioning website.

Of that 60%, 45% were not mobile responsive. And over 85% lacked an attractive and professional design in the view of the assessor.

Finally, 62% of the charities examined did not have a regular giving option within their online donation system.

When you look at it like that it seems clear how charities are potentially missing out on all important donations.

So, it seems that knowing your audience has never been more pertinent. But that isn’t limited to how they like to donate but also what motivates millennials to part with their hard-earned cash.

Tapping into their motivation

The Millennial Impact project has identified that getting involved is one of the top motivators for charitable giving. Rather than simply donate to cause on a monthly basis, Millennials thrive off volunteering and raising money through events. In fact 70% said they’d rather fundraise through an event than just donate. It seems involvement is the key word here and gone are the days when a charity could attract donations through its reputation alone.

It’s not just about the money. Millennials, more than any other generation are motivated by tangible results. They want concrete evidence of impact and regular updates about successful projects and programs. 43% said they’d want to hear from a charity monthly. 79% wanted updates on programs and services, 70% volunteer opportunities, 56% info about fundraising events and 56% events and activities for young professionals.

Sharing is caring

“It might seem like Generation Y hasn’t been as involved in social issues. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Generation Y’s social presence doesn’t begin with marches—it begins with 140 characters.” Complex.com

Whilst it might feel like a giant cliché, social media is something that charities simply must engage in if they hope to harness the millennial market.

If we take into consideration the findings above about millennial’s being motivated by tangible results, social media is merely an extension of this. Along with wanting to see tangible results there is a desire to share these results far and wide. Run a marathon? Raised £1k at your office bake sale? Tipped a bucket of ice cold water over your head? Best share it with your friends, work colleagues and that person you went to school with 10 years ago.

On a serious note, online identity has become more and more prevalent in recent times and millennials in particular want to share the causes they care about with their friends.

Whilst this might seem like a vanity exercise, it is worth remembering that millennials also discover causes online. If done in the right way, social media can help charities drastically increase their followings and reach a whole new audience.

The No Makeup Selfie might have seemed vacuous however it raised over $8 million in just a week. The Ice Bucket Challenge not only brought awareness to a previously little-known neurodegenerative disease but also raised $115 million for the cause. The institution that is Movember has gained 55.7k followers since 2003 and raised $559 million to date.

In summary there’s plenty of potential for charities to harness the power of millennial donations however they must be prepared to offer:

  • sleek, up-to-date online giving,
  • concrete results through stories about successful projects and programs,
  • encouragement to share the results of their contributions with friends and colleagues

Jared O’Mara and the unforgiving eternity of the Internet

Just cos he writes about gayness and gay issues, doesn’t mean he drives up the marmite motorway.’

‘I just think that this story is much more poignantly romantic than fudge packing Jake.’

‘A rhythm section that’s tighter than your mother was when I took her virginity all those years ago.’

You could be forgiven for reading the above statements as the deranged blabbering of a sulky, and confused teenager. If only it were so. Instead, they represent the historic online comments of elected Labour MP Jared O’Mara.

O’Mara made headlines in the snap election when he displaced Nick Clegg from his seat of Sheffield Hallam. He was seen as a candidate who was very much carried along on the crest of the Momentum wave.

That was June, this is October, and O’Mara has been suspended from the party following a string of vile revelations broken by Guido Fawkes, a right-wing gossip blog infamous for exposing the worst digressions of Members of Parliament.

O’Mara’s ire was not limited to homosexual people, or other people’s mothers. ‘Fat’ people, women, Spaniards, Danes and teenage girls have all felt the sting of O’Mara’s vitriol over the years. Angela Rayner, a member of the Shadow Cabinet, defended O’Mara by claiming that these comments were made a long time ago, and that his opinions had evolved. This is a pretty weak defence, and weaker still given that we can simply check the dates of his comments in an online forum and ascertain that he was 21-years-old.

Now, I’m 23, and as vulgar and detestable as my colleagues might find me, I would argue that I know that referring to teenage girls as ‘sexy little slags’ is not the social norm, and I would also have known two years ago that it was unacceptable.

While it would be easy to sit here and pull apart O’Mara’s views, and the sub-standard Labour vetting process that allowed him to contest a seat, the best lesson learned for figures of public prominence is the damage that the digital world can wreak on a reputation. O’Mara is 35-years-old now, and is perhaps one generation too late to have truly grown up with the internet.

But given the way he is now being torn to shreds in the media, this raises an interesting question over whether this is something we can expect to see more of, as more public figures who have grown up with online forums, Facebook and Twitter come into the spotlight.

This can at times be a source of amusement. The SNP’s Mhairi Black was just 20 when elected (you may have seen her, in a blinding lack of self-awareness, lamenting ‘career politicians’ recently), and some of her old tweets from her teenage years were dug up after her selection. They were quite funny to the casual observer, and rather embarrassing for Black herself.

 

 

 

Andre Gray, the Premier League footballer, had a more sobering experience when explosive homophobic tweets from his past were pulled up. He faced FA disciplinary action as a result. 

Trial by social media is not a new phenomenon, but as those who have grown up hand-in-glove with the internet move into positions as MPs and figures of public influence, there could be much more scandal yet to come.

Being cautious or vigilant in the here and now is clearly not enough. Do people remember all that they have done and said in the past? Should they continue to be made to atone for it? Is the best course of action to completely erase your digital footprint?

Online is forever, and as Jared O’Mara is finding out, there is no hiding place once all is revealed.

Just how many more skeletons are there in how many more closets? Halloween is on the way, so another fright may be just around the corner.

 

#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon

Last week’s attacks in Paris were sickening, of that there is no doubt. The fallout, many innocent people are dead, world leaders are doing their best to be seen to support their French allies and millions of tweets are being sent bearing #JeSuisCharlie.

This isn’t a blog looking at the wider repercussions of the attacks, that’s something far too large to do here, or in any single blog – to look at the rising anti-Muslim agenda, scaremongering and media misreporting, but what can be assessed is the role social media plays in these instances.

Since last week’s attacks, I’d be keen to bet that #JeSuisCharlie has trended consistently. A hashtag which aims to show solidarity towards the victims, defiance against terror and a pro-free speech outlook – big objectives for a mere 13 characters.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

The main reason social media, particularly Twitter, is able to spread this feeling of support and defiance is that, simply put, it’s quick and easy to do so – a great advantage. Yet this ‘click and forget’, ‘like and leave’ mentality is its own worst enemy. Take the previous example of #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag supported by the likes of Michelle Obama to raise awareness around the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria. Remember that? Outraged at the time? Perhaps you even shared the hashtag. But what then?

Social media, of which I like most people am a big fan, makes news quicker, more interactive, and affords people the opportunity to share their opinion. But when it’s just as easy to back worldwide disgust at a terrorist incident as it is to show your enjoyment of a picture of a cat dressed as a lion, in many ways it cheapens the message.

The nature of social media, particularly Twitter, is transient and perhaps the wider question is can a campaign be sustained through this channel and if so, how?

Yes, being able to say X million people worldwide have backed #JeSuisCharlie is powerful in itself, it is a message that society won’t be defeated, but surely a much more powerful measure of impact, of our resistance, is to ask people a month down the line who still really cares? This may sound blunt, but the news agenda moves quicker than ever before and most stories are forgotten.

The Paris attacks perhaps are (and should be) too large to fall into this category, but only time will tell.

Music streaming: Are songs becoming too accessible?

The Official Charts Company announced earlier today that songs played on streaming services such as Spotify will be counted as part of the Official Singles Chart from the beginning of next month. This decision marks the first time that chart positions could be affected without fans paying for the most popular songs.

The move comes in light of the continued popularity and growth of music streaming where an average of 260 million songs are currently streamed per week. The Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot justified the decision by stating that the changes are about “future proofing the charts.”

“So far this year we’ve seen nine tracks which have been streamed more than one million times in a week,” Talbot explained. “Last year there were only two tracks that had reached that kind of level.”

Music sharing sites have recently been criticised by artists.

However, in order to ensure that users are unable to hugely influence the chart by streaming one song constantly throughout the week, 100 streams will be the equivalent of one single purchase or download and only ten plays will count per user, per day.

The move clearly reflects the new ways in which people are digesting and listening to music in this day and age where access to content is so freely available. However, it remains to be seen if the artists will be fairly remunerated for their content on streaming sites, and how this decision will affect the direction of the music industry as a whole.

While up and coming artists may potentially see an increase in their chart positions as users of streaming sites can easily experiment with new sounds risk-free, the decision to count streaming data could be controversial amongst established artists who have accused Spotify and other streaming services of exploiting their music and paying them tiny royalties in return.

Writing in the Guardian last year, David Byrne, former lead singer of Talking Heads, said the amount paid to artists per stream was “minuscule… if artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from these services, they’ll be out of work within a year.”

It’s clear that if the new generation of fans were to begin solely using music streaming sites the music industry would need to have a serious rethink about the platforms on which songs are available. Therefore, music bosses need to hope that the inclusion of streaming data will add variety to the charts rather than favour ease of access listening over buying songs, which could heavily impact the royalties that artists receive for their talent.

Mozilla CEO’s resignation shows a fortnight is a long time in PR

There is no greater hindrance to business success than complacency. One minute things are going well, the next you’re facing a public crisis – just ask Brendan Eich.

It was today announced that the Mozilla chief executive would step down from his position after public outrage at his support of a California bill to ban gay marriage. In addition, he also resigned from his seat on the board of the non-profit foundation which owns the company.

Last week three members of the Mozilla board resigned after Mr Eich was promoted – it’s safe to say he’s had a nightmare fortnight.

Mozilla CEO stepped down due to views on gay marriage

Mozilla CEO stepped down due to views on gay marriage

So how did Mr Eich get to this unenviable outcome? Simply due to the weight of public outrage at his personal views on whether people of the same sex should be allowed to marry.

With growing transparency amongst businesses, the people who run them, and the public, facilitated by an extraordinary rise in the popularity of social media, it has never been more important for companies to stand for something real – something people can get behind.  Mozilla do this well and for many have been viewed as the good guys, waging war on the corporate behemoth that is Internet Explorer. A fun, inclusive company which champions service and enjoyment – and certainly not one at which a CEO would have prejudice views on who should and shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

Modern business PR is all about delivering a clear, consistent and believable message so whilst a company can do one thing, if a senior employee does the opposite this disconnect is leapt upon in a second and in short you can be thrown to the wolves. In this case, Mr Eich’s comments were the equivalent of a Greenpeace representative supporting a bill for lessened regulation on seal clubbing.

All companies, regardless of size need to continually reinforce the importance of a united front and message to all of their employees, particularly visible senior ones otherwise a brand image which has been carefully crafted over a number of years can come tumbling down in one speech, one tweet, five seconds.

The company did the right thing to distance itself from his stance, exposing it as a rogue view rather than a company one, however as they conceded, ‘We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.’

Politicians are regularly told to tow the party line and perhaps Mr Eich should’ve done the same at Mozilla rather than letting his personal views cost him his job and Mozilla some of their credibility.

The Google Zeitgeist report shows the importance of PR for businesses

The highly anticipated Zeitgeist report showing the top Google searches over the past year was published last Tuesday. With access to the internet being worldwide, the report quite literally tells us what the entire world is researching and is consequently interested in. This is a PR’s dream!

In addition to the report being broken down into countries, there are a number of different categories such as the top searched people, ‘How to’ questions and TV shows so we can really get a feel for the news stories and events that have occupied the nation’s minds over the past year.

Some results are a little more unexpected than others but it comes as no surprise that ‘What is twerking?’ is the number one most searched for ‘What is…?’ question of the year, weather forecast is a hot search in the UK and ‘Paul Walker’, ‘iPhone 5s’ and ‘royal baby’ are the top searched terms overall.

Image Courtesy of NTEZIRYAYO ALPHONSE, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of NTEZIRYAYO ALPHONSE, flickr. com

Looking through the top charts it quickly becomes apparent that all the top searches are things that are current and memorable for some reason, whether it be good or bad. For example, four out of the top five most searched for people have passed away this year and the top five searched songs are controversial for some reason whether it be the clothing, or lack of it, the dancers are wearing, the outrageous dance moves or shocking lyrics.

As human beings, we remember and are intrigued by tragic news, shocking stories and things that make us laugh. This is because they play on our emotions and we want to know more. PR’s work with this in mind every day when trying to think up that perfect campaign or a write a press release that will grab a journalist’s attention.

Not only is the Zeitgeist report entertaining and a great talking point but it shows the importance of PR for businesses and brands by proving just how vital it is to keep them in the forefront of the media and constantly on people’s minds.

By keeping businesses and brands no matter what size in the media regularly, whether it be an article in a magazine, an interview in a newspaper or online as a thought leader, they will remain in consumers’ minds, even subconsciously, making them more likely to want to find out more. This, in theory, should lead them to the company’s website where that interest may be converted into a sale.