GOOD_Thinking_MillennialsThe Colour Run. The Santa Run.  The Mudders. The MoBros. We’ve seen the number of fundraising events increase 7x fold since 2007. A true explosion of charity event innovation. And there’s no doubt that this is a move to woo Millennials, like me.

A Millennial is twice as likely to fundraise through an event than a Baby boomer. And this event explosion is slowly trickling down into our regular giving too.

We’re still the least likely to give regularly – and who can blame us when we pay a fortune in rent.

But in the last few years there was actually a +7% increase in 16-24s regular givers, whilst figures dropped for almost every other age group. Your event is a way to hook Millennials into supporting your cause for the long haul.

So what’s the best way to woo a Millennial?  Clue: it’s not shameless self-promotion.

I bet you’ve read loads of articles that describe us as the most self-obsessed generation ever. Perhaps the Admap piece on our ‘thirst for self-promotion.’ Maybe the Time magazine front cover that described us as ‘lazy, entitled narcissists’?

There is truth in this (sadly). But charities take this idea of ‘Brand Me’ far too literally.

They read these articles and assume that every Millennial wants to publish a Facebook badge that says ‘I’ve donated to charity’. But nobody wants to be that person on Facebook. It’s embarrassing.

In fact, a recent survey asked Millennials what charity information they would share on Facebook. The fact that they had donated or personally made an impact ranked right at the bottom of the list.

What Millennials really want is an experience.

Top of the list — 74% said they would share information about non-profit “cool events”.

The emphasis is on the word “cool” — if they could arrange the experience themselves without your help; it’s not nearly cool enough.  Think Secret Cinema or the Naked Cycle ride.

For other age groups the joy of events comes from setting themselves a personal challenge (run a marathon, cycle to Brighton, swim the channel) or sometimes the joy of doing things together (everyone run together in pink, everyone come into work in fancy dress).

For Millennials, it really is that money-can’t-buy experience we want. Just look at the statsb

More than anything, experiences give us something to talk about. A unique story to tell our Facebook friends, that doesn’t sound too braggy – though of course the more exclusive the experience the better the story.

The Colour Run and The Santa Run are perfect examples of this. Even Tough Mudder is more about the mud-covered experience than the personal challenge. You’ll also remember Orange had great success a few years ago with their RockCorps — a movement that let young people unlock access to exclusive music events with major artists by volunteering. More recently, we’ve noticed an initiative by the United Nations called the Society of Young Philanthropists. They partner with luxury brands like Tatler and various celebrities from Made in Chelsea to host exclusive, premium events for influential young donors.

But once Millennials have signed up they want to shamelessly promote themselves right? Not really. Not overtly at least. It’s still a bit embarrassing. The best way to keep Millennials engaged is to get us creating.

The past decade has seen a game-changing surge in online creativity. In 2006 less than 10% actively created content online. Now, it’s 77% – and Millennials are the driving force behind this. 58% of Millennials create content online each week. We spend 5 hours a day looking at content created by our peers. We’re also the most likely to use creative platforms like Instagram and Tumblr.

The point is — you don’t have to tell Millennials what to say. In fact, we won’t like that at all. We’d much rather you give us all the ingredients, and let us tell the story ourselves.

We loved Live Below the Line’s fundraising platform this year. It let you beautifully blog your own way through the 2 week experience. Just from my own group of mates; one person used it as a platform for YouTube video diaries, another mate used it to post her own Live-Below recipes. Movember too have it nailed. No strict brand guidelines here. Instead they launched the Moscars, asking the MoBros themselves to get creative with a camera and film their own Movember call to arms — with an award for the greatest. The final films were of an incredibly high standard. One of our favourite StartUps at the moment is SeenIt. It’s a service that lets brands crowdsource video content and is perfect for events. You send out your shopping list of wanted shots to the crowd. They get creative, then SeenIt works to collate and create a beautiful montage of film clips made by people on the ground. Imagine the fun camera-savvy Millennials could have with this at Tough Mudder or the Santa Run.

So if you want to woo Millennials with your event — ask these two questions: Are we giving them an experience they could never arrange themselves? Are we telling them what to say — or letting them finish our story?