THE BLOG

Should Millennials Be On Your Non-Profit Board?

06/11/2013 04:24 pm ET | Updated Aug 11, 2013

5 reasons why you should have millennials on your non-profit board:

1. Board Diversity
Representing a broad set of perspectives on your board is important. This includes people of varied backgrounds and experience. We often talk about ethnic or gender diversity on boards but having people of who come from different generations is key. Young people think differently, and they bring alternative perspectives to the board. They have alternative priorities, consider different possibilities, and ask different questions, simply because their life experience is different from other generations.

2. Succession
Future leadership is a major issue that most boards are ignoring. Cultivating tomorrow's board leaders needs to happen today. Engaging younger demographics is a step in the right direction. Young leaders need an opportunity to learn from experienced board members, understand the nuances of an organization's internal operations, and practice their skills. This doesn't happen overnight. Engaging younger demographics, bringing them into the fold, and teaching them the required skills are important parts of a sound succession strategy.

3. Technology
Technology continues to revolutionize the landscape. Younger demographics understand how rapidly changing technology is utilized to build networks, conduct marketing, and collect data. Boards should engage younger members who are familiar with current technology trends. Younger demographics have more experience leveraging technology, and are generally more comfortable using technology in new ways. Boards that ignore technology, and have poor succession planning are taking enormous risks on their future capabilities and longevity. The solution is simple: engage younger board members and take advantage of their technological savvy.

4. Marketing
Changes in technology have also changed marketing strategies and tactics. The cost of acquiring market intelligence has dropped, while accessibility to diverse communications platforms has increased. Younger demographics are adept at using new marketing channels to reach out to new audiences and build communities of engaged supporters. Traditional marketing media are still important, and many of the old methodologies of raising awareness, converting supporters, and building brand integrity remain foundational. However, boards that fail to leverage new marketing platforms on the Internet are taking unnecessary risks. Younger demographics are simply more familiar and in-tune with the ever changing landscape of social media communications. These low-cost platforms can deliver dramatic results when used effectively. Leverage this new opportunity by engaging younger board members. Also, marketing to younger demographics through new channels is important for building a strong base of current and future supporters.

5. Fundraising
Youth and fundraising go hand in hand: their passion, honesty, and enthusiasm for supporting causes shines through. While it is tempting to focus on established fundraisers who follow the more traditional sales approach to fundraising, younger demographics can also bring a lot of punch to the fundraising table. Changing technology expands the network and reach of individuals. Younger people are just as connected, and might even have broader more diverse networks than older demographics because they are so engaged with social media. Reaching out to younger demographics enables a non-profit to reach supporters earlier in their life-cycle, and potentially develop life-long supporters. Crowd-source fundraising is an excellent example of how reaching a broad network and tapping supporters for smaller donations more frequently is a viable fundraising strategy. Youth in the media are more compelling as well, and tend to appeal to both younger and older demographics.

Conclusion
Today's non-profits must deal with a constantly changing environment that is increasing its pace of change. New technologies, new social norms and new realities mean that today's non-profits must use every tool possible to adapt with these changing times. Leveraging millennials is an important component to this adaption for non-profits. Not only do milliennials bring a deep understanding of the new technologies and new social norms that are changing the way non-profits operate, millennials also provide a new way of thinking that will be critical in the coming decades to maintain a non-profits longevity and purpose.