Planning an event for your nonprofit? Consider your millennial audience at every step.


For most nonprofits, events are paramount to your organization’s success. A good event can boost awareness for your organization and help you meet your goals. However, a poorly-executed event can damage your organization’s image and turn into a major time suck.

Like most aspects of communication, the key to successful events is speaking to your audience. With this in mind, how can you prepare for the “changing of the guard” (read about what I mean in “Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers)? What can you do to attract this new, younger audience?

There’s more than black-tie galas

We’ve all been to black-tie galas with the rubber chicken dinner followed by the boring powerpoint programming. Don’t get me wrong, it can be effective but there are other options. If you’re trying to break through and attract a younger audience consider a less formal, traditional event. One of our clients, YouthLink, recently held an event that featured whiskey tastings and prize drawings. Though upscale in its own way, this event was a far cry from a traditional nonprofit gala. This makes it stand out.

Depending on your event goals, you may consider one of the following:

    • Activity-based events such as walks or runs
    • Experiential events
    • Pub crawls
    • Food or beverage-based events – food trucks, wine pairings, whiskey tastings
    • Trivia contents
    • House concerts
  • crowdfunding

Be upfront with “the ask”

There are more nonprofits now than ever before. With worthy causes out there competing for donors and volunteers, getting someone to even attend your event, not to mention make a gift, can be challenging.

Some of us tend to hide that fact that we’re seeking donations, but I’d like to argue that it’s important to clearly communicate what your expectations are. If your guests know ahead of time what the goals of your organization are, they’ll be able to budget and consider their options, rather than feel unprepared or even tricked into an event.

Make it easy

Whether we’re talking about registering for the event, subscribing to a mailing list, or making a donation, make it as simple as possible. If there’s any bit of friction, your conversion rates and interactions will decrease. When you’re planning your event, consider your attendees: how do they prefer to interact? Do they prefer to donate online or are they more comfortable writing a check? Would they want someone to check them into the event?

Organizing an event for your nonprofit, takes time and money. Considering your audience will help you to plan an event that resonates with them while also allowing you to meet your goals.