Guides & Resources

Five Reasons Millennials Are Not Attending Your Event

Stewardship & Marketing: Donor Relations/Stewardship
Current & Prospect Donor Research Strategies: Benchmarks, Prospect Research
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access (IDEA): Diversity and Inclusion (IDEA)
Fundraising Strategies: Special Events
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Did you know that the Millennial generation makes up a whopping one-third of the U.S. population now? Not only are Millennials a large percentage of your potential event attendees, they are also entering their prime spending years which could mean a larger bottom line at your event. However, Millennials are selective as to where they are willing to splurge and spend their hard-earned cash.

What can you do to make Millennials choose to attend your event? Read below for the five reasons Millennials are not attending events and what you can do to capitalize on this generation. 

1) Thumbs-Down Theme

How many “Through the Decades” themed events can you attend before you never want to pull out your bell-bottoms and floral button-up ever again? To ensure a millennial-approved theme, it must be original and shareworthy. Themes can be tough – if not executed correctly, they can come across pretty cheesy. But, if your theme is able to transport the audience into a different world or setting, it will deliver a greater impact and encourage attendees to take and post lots of pictures, including sharing through social media and other outlets.

Connecting the invitations, decorations, food, drinks, auction items, and presentation to the theme is crucial in a creating a wholistic experience. Slapping a theme onto an event without ensuring its actually serving its purpose to create added value for guests is a waste of time and money. Nothing is worse than a theme that falls flat and confuses attendees more than excites them. Some themes that have proven to have traction with Millennials are country-western, masquerade, medieval feast, and even nostalgic themes like Star Wars or Candy Land.   

2) Kid Duty

Over half of Millennials are now parents, and as a result, two thirds are attending more daytime, family-friendly events. Don’t let Millennials miss out because they can’t find a babysitter. Invite the family! Schedule your next event on a weekend and make it kid-centric with games and activities for the whole family. Or, on the other hand, provide child-care services to allow parents to relax and have fun without the worry of kids left at home. Millennial parents are more likely to share their positive experience on social media, especially if they center around their children.

3) Uneventful

Don’t let your event blend in with the rest. Make your next event unique by adding “experiential” components. A staggering 75% of Millennials prioritize experiences over products. Why play a game of Clue when you can go to an Escape Room and be an actual part of the live game or go to a bar for a glass of bourbon when you can do a full distillery tour with tastings? It’s all about having that memorable experience and being able to share it with others.

This concept can be used in your next event through incorporating ideas like “Dancing with The Stars” where local celebrities or influencers pair with professional dancers for live performances and attendees can vote for their favorite. Another idea is to partner with a winery and virtually transport your guests to Wine Country for wine tastings and wine blending seminars. The more you can provide guests with one-of-a-kind experiences at your event, the more Millennials will attend and share to social media, friends, and family.

4) Food Fail

Millennials coined the term “foodie” and are often referred to as the foodie generation, meaning they are fascinated with food and love to try new restaurants, ethnic cuisine, and share it on social media. Don’t just have the basic chicken, starch, and vegetable at your event. You need to be giving these attendees something to talk and post about.

Provide your guests with “Instagrammable” food and drinks and connect the meal with the theme to allow your attendees to try something new. Food and drinks must be photo-ready for this “phone eats first” generation. A donut wall is a great example of using food for a dual purpose: it’s not only delicious but provides a fun and unique opportunity for pictures.   

5) No FOMO

Are you familiar with the feeling of watching Snapchat and Instagram of your friends and family having the time of your lives? If so, then you’ve experienced FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). FOMO is a huge influencer on Millennial attendance.

You can create FOMO at your next event by providing perks for attendees only. These can be custom gifts that guests receive as they walk in the door, raffle chances for travel packages with more than just one winner, and even name recognition on social media or a donor appreciation wall. According to a 2015 Millennial Impact Report, this generation is highly motivated by name recognition and prizes in exchange for a donation. Ensuring your event rewards guests for attending, as well as providing plenty of shareworthy design, decorations, and performances, all help to encourage people to learn more about your event and attend future ones.

Most of all, your event must be affordable. The Millennial generation is fairly cost-conscious and want the most bang for its buck. Incorporating the above recommendations at a reasonable cost is the ultimate check-list for getting Millennials at your event.

Krista Kuhlman is the experiential marketing manager at Giveback Sports, LLC, which provides remarkable experiences and custom travel packages to support nonprofits in their fundraising efforts.

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