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Fundraising 101: How To Mobilize A Generation of Slacktivists

We all know them: People who “like” tons of non-profits on Facebook and talk extensively about social justice on their newsfeeds, but are nary to bring that activism into their real lives. Another way to describe them? Slacktivists. And I’m not pointing the finger without pointing it back, because I’m guilty of it too. It is a rare day when I don’t spend my morning scrolling through devastating photos of starving children or the latest oil spill, feel incredibly bad, and then just, do nothing.

The big question of the future is: how do we transform these “slacktivist” millennials, who have their hearts in the right place but seem to lack the initiative, into real-life-fundraisers and activists? How do we get them to be more involved with local non-profits and mobilize for donations? According to a recent NPR segment, millennials are more likely to make long-term non-profit investments than to arbitrarily donate to non-profits that they don’t have an emotional connection with. Which means that many forms of outreach that your non-profit may be doing, in order to get that one-time big donation, may not be very effective. The reason for this is because of the deep skepticism that haunts my generation– there have been too many reputable non-profits that have turned out to be shams. We’ve lost our trust, and because of that, we want to know exactly who we’re giving our money to and what is going to happen with it.

Additionally, choice is one of our downfalls. Given the immediacy of media, we all know how many problems there are in the world. We are constantly surrounded by news of natural disasters, horrific dictators, and terrible inequality. Due to this, it is hard to know which cause we should commit ourselves to, which problem we should invest our selves into trying to fix. How does one decide between finding a cure for cancer or providing water to third world countries? Millennials truly do have a deep, burning desire to give back, but we feel overwhelmed by all the choices and so, we end up doing nothing.

But don’t be disheartened. The key takeaway is that we DO want to give back, it just takes a little extra, creative innovation to get us to feel comfortable enough to. A big way to achieve this comfort is to make fundraising events fun.

86% of the millennials that I polled would choose to go to a fun event if they knew that it had a charitable aspect to it. Which means that, when choosing between a regular concert, and a concert that was a fundraiser, they would be more likely to choose the fundraiser. In fact, most millennials would prefer to go to a concert or festival, as a way of giving back, then any other form of fundraising event. This may be important to keep in mind as you plan your next fundraiser: what kind of activities can you design that would entice the slacktivists around you to turn off their computer and open their checkbooks?

Fundraising 101: How To Mobilize A Generation of Slacktivists

Hilarity and charity. Bikes, Beers, and Bemusement. These are the taglines for The “Tour De Fat”, an extremely successful fundraiser that partners with local bicycle non-profits all around the country to put on a costumed fundraising bike ride and variety show. People of all ages come to have a great time and the “Tour De Fat” has raised anywhere from $45,000 to $100,000 per event for the non-profits by enable people to have a good time, while doing it. The sponsor, New Begium Brewery does not take any of the proceeds. The state in their sixth commandment:

New Belgium shalt not profit: Our goal is to raise money for bicycle and environmental charities. On any other day, dressing like a freak and hanging out in the park with thine buddies might be reason for being called a Philanderer, but today thou ist a Philanthropist.

Now, doesn’t that inspire you to get creative with your fundraising? There are tons of examples all over the place, if you’re in need of inspiration. Some of my favorites are: Frazier Park ZombieFest (Zombies for good!) Pawtini (Great Plains SPCA), Weenie Roast Concert (Surfrider Foundation), Art Beyond The Glass (Inner City Arts L.A.), and Joyful Tastes of Life (Akron General Hospice Visiting Nurse Service).

Do you have any thoughts about how to get “slacktivists” to put their pens to the paper and mobilize in real life? Leave your thoughts in the comments!