Meaningful Engagement With Young Professionals

They seem like a match made for the movies. Small organizations are often looking for new, active supporters to take their missions to the next level. Millennials, their impact on the world broadening, are seeking out ways to engage.

Placing the two together in the movies might be as simple as locating a shaded park bench or a ritzy party. In the real world, one might just follow the advice of Kate Sarata, executive director of The Service Collaborative of WNY, and Naomi Pabon-Figueroa, associate at Robert J. Miller and Associates.

    Sarata and Pabon-Figueroa discussed strategies on how to better incorporate young professionals into organizations during their session, “Meaningful Engagement: How Small Organizations Can Design and Sustain Young Professionals Engagement,” at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans. During the session, the presenters offered four key tips:

  • Build relationships and have some self-awareness. Identify and capitalize on what makes you different from peer groups. Why might individuals choose your organization over others? Treat supporters well and be authentic;
  • Understand the system. How are you expecting your organization to perform given the realities that surround you? Accept the fact that, no matter what you do, some people might still not engage with you;
  • Use professional judgement. Seek out support from peers and share your vision. Try to find the sweet spot between structure and giving new supporters some autonomy;
  • Manage. Balance between creating new opportunities and avoiding the reinvention of the wheel. Remember that change is not always necessary. When possible, tailor the breadth of opportunities.