To Tweet, or Not to Tweet

September 14, 2011

By Tiegen Kosiak

At my previous nonprofit organization in Alabama, we rarely checked our email.  Well, we did, a little bit, to correspond with partner agencies and donors and whatnot, but none of our clients used it, proper email that is.  You see, our clients were high school students that slept with their smart phones as if they were stuffed animals.    These students loved to volunteer, but they hated dedicating the time to checking an actual email account.  However, they were, currently are, and will continue to become more addicted to Facebook and Twitter, the social media sites that have blown up in our instant gratification, short attention span culture.

According to Tim Elmore, author of Habitudes and Generation iY, Millennials—people born between 1984 and 2002—are the country’s largest growing volunteer base.  These young people love to be involved with causes that “make a difference” even if it just involves buying a pair of shoes.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the awesome growth of the seemingly nonprofit company TOMS Shoes, which in fact does turn an incredible profit from kids that want to help other kids by wearing trendy footwear.

However, Millennials aren’t just into volunteerism for appearance sake.  They believe in it, and they’re good at it!  They’re strong-backed, energetic, technologically savvy, and idealistic, which makes them perfect for volunteer opportunities many adults are far too jaded and/or overworked to accept.

So how do you reach this wellspring of volunteer power?  You open a Twitter account and link it to your Facebook!  You @EveryoneYouKnow and become really familiar with #hashtags.  You keep things short and sweet, and you provide a lot of links.  It’s important to make it easy for people to follow along so that they, in turn, follow through with volunteerism, board participation, etc. 

And trust, this campaign isn’t only for those under twenty-seven.  Where youth goes, the masses will follow; they have to.  The Millennial generation challenges the Baby Boomers in size, so to stay in touch with our changing economy and our booming technology, we must adapt to this emerging workforce that, as I said earlier, is obsessed with Twitter and Facebook! #andthatsafact

For a great book on how to best utilize your social media sites, check out The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith (with Carlyle Adler

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