The ever-elusive, always discussed millennial seems to evade the reach of many companies, businesses, organizations, and nonprofits. But the key to capturing the attention of the millennial generation – which is projected to make up 75% of the workforce in less than 10 years – lies in the hands of Harry Potter. While the previous generation grew up with the black and white, good versus evil theme of film series like Star Wars, millennials cultivated a strong bond with the characters in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Although the good versus evil dichotomy still existed in this series, Harry Potter emphasized other concepts including the importance of contributing to the greater good and of having a teamwork mentality. The nonprofit organization striving to attract millennials to their cause in a monetary or intangible way, such as volunteering, must acknowledge the unique mindset of the generation when crafting presentations. Here are four ways to increase engagement with millennials during a presentation based off of the way their brains work:

1. Establish a personal relationship

Throughout the seven books in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling formed a bond as an author with her large army of readers – consistently producing new material and continuing the plot until its end. Millennials are accustomed to this personalized treatment. According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, millennials are almost twice as likely to submit a donation for a particular cause if their supervisor – rather than a CEO or individual in a high-ranking executive position – requests their participation. For nonprofit-representing presenters, this demonstrates the value millennials place on close, personal relationships. During the course of your presentation, strive to not only establish credibility, but also to emphasize concepts that will resonate best with this generation. Another tactic that could be employed to enhance the impact of your presentation on millennials involves incorporating lower-level employees or staff from your organization throughout the talk to get on this audience’s level.

2. Provide interactive components

According to a recent Entrepreneur article, the millennial brain is conditioned to respond better to dynamic media and convoluted messaging. You can challenge your millennial audience by carving time for involved activities and taking a creative storytelling route. With over 50% of millennials believing that the decisions people make are heavily-influenced by profit, nonprofits have a clear advantage. The pursuit of an ethical lifestyle – a goal a majority of millennials share – is foundational to the nonprofit environment. To sway your millennial audience during a presentation, rely on the power of storytelling to communicate a narrative and inspire them to contribute to your cause. But don’t just incorporate a storytelling component; align that narrative with the overall mission of your organization and the greater purpose. For example, the following presentation Ethos3 created for World Vision intertwines an impactful narrative that adroitly connects a universal experience to the organization’s mission.

The Box Revisited from Ethos3

Recent studies have found that 64% of senior millennial employees make decisions at work based on personal values and morals, while 49% of junior millennial employees do the same – an example of the influence morality and doing good has on this group. After all, J.K. Rowling did write this line in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that summarizes the millennial mindset on morality:

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

3. Choose an appropriate call to action

In line with their Harry Potter roots, millennials focus on contributing to the greater good in nearly every endeavor – from their work lives to their personal lives. They recall fondly the memories of reading about Harry’s quest to defeat Voldemort in order to keep him from destroying the fantasy world. Millennials want to know that their efforts and dollars will make the maximum impact. New York Nonprofit Media suggests implementing challenges or matching gifts to incite the donation fever among the rising generation. Depending on other factors and characteristics of your audience, however, the call to action might differ from a typical generous donation. For example, the World Vision presentation referenced above was more of a high-level introduction to the organization and its mission. The last few slides say the following: “Living outside the box requires giving outside the box. World Vision. An organization we can get behind.” This presentation spent a majority of the deck telling a story that nearly any audience can empathize with and understand. At the end, it quickly and memorably connected the broader story with the more specific mission through a beautifully-crafted call to action.

4. Repurpose presentation content

When a millennial presses the send, retweet, or share button on any social interface, the temporoparietal junction of the brain produces a rush of oxytocin – elevating their moods. It’s all about the interaction for this generation, just as teamwork is so prevalent throughout the Harry Potter series. For example, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Hermione collaborated – one turning time and the other conjuring the patronus charm to save Sirius and defeat the Dementors. Encourage this collaboration by repurposing your presentation content.

Make your presentation content available on social media and the web by taking a segment of your presentation – a single slide from the deck – and distributing it on Facebook and Twitter. If you produced a short video for your presentation, don’t let it go to waste. Post it on your social media channels to allow for maximum engagement and increase website traffic, especially from millennials. Don’t stop there though. Interact with your digital audience in a meaningful way to fully utilize your presentation content.


The millennial mind is one that believes in projects that have a higher purpose; that constantly works to contribute to the greater good, whether that be by sharing a post or supporting organizations and businesses that treat others with respect; and that desires dynamic displays while learning, growing, and producing. Giving millennials opportunities to further engage with your nonprofit will establish the trust and credibility they crave, as well as instill them with a sense of camaraderie and allow them to contribute to the greater good – regardless of what the good is. It may not be as easy as eliciting a spell and waving your wand, but an understanding of the millennial mindset will drastically improve your nonprofit presentation. From the delivery of the presentation and the strategic inclusion of activities to a meaningful call to action and extended engagement period, knowing what to expect from millennials is the ultimate value-added for any nonprofit. For more information about nonprofit storytelling and how to encourage millennial participation in or with your organization, read the following resources:

How Millennials Are Changing Non-Profits

Engaging Millennials for Nonprofit Storytelling

Presenting in a Millennial World

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