On the heels of the Occupy Movement, skepticism regarding millennials and their willingness to take action on behalf of social causes grew. Many referred to these digital natives as “generation Q” — for quiet. But in recent years, millennials have risen to the occasion — proving themselves as active and vocal advocates of various cause-related issues.More than a decade ago, the Case Foundation and Achieve embarked on a mission to understand this emerging generation of do-gooders. Through the decade-long Millennial Impact Project and the survey of more than 150,000 millennials, the Millennial Impact Report has brought the passions, behaviors and desires of the “silent generation” to the surface.
Here are five insights about millennials that nonprofits and foundations should know:
1. Millennials Are Passionate About Causes, Not Institutions
When millennials are propelled into action, they’re compelled to give back to issues and causes, not specific organizations. More than 90 percent of millennials are motivated to give because of a strong, transparent and captivating mission.
With so many organizations focused on solving similar issues, having a strong mission and being able to communicate it effectively is crucial to connecting with this next generation of philanthropists. Focus on the cause and shift your messaging to include donors as the solution.
2. Millennials Are Heavily Influenced by Their Peers
Peer influence is key to engaging millennials to take action toward a cause. Millennials are considerably more likely to become involved in a cause if their peers are already engaged. In regard to engagement in the workplace, 46 percent reported being more likely to donate if a co-worker does. In addition, 65 percent reported being more likely to volunteer if a co-worker does.
This peer-to-peer driven mindset isn’t exclusive to workplace giving. Social media has become a fundraising machine, largely due to the nature of this peer-influenced generation. Having an active presence on social media that is rooted in strategy will attract millennial support, and can even turn them into your organization’s passionate advocates.
3. Millennials Believe in Collective Action
Millennials express faith in their collective power, not the government or institutions, to solve the pressing issues of today. This generation is motivated and willing to be active about issues that affect them directly, as well as those that affect individuals who can not speak for themselves.
The digital age has created a hyperconnected society where we’re able to connect with others across the world based on our shared interests and beliefs. Millennials have leveraged this power to form their tribes and activate their movements, both on- and offline. Crafting messages and involvement opportunities focused on collective power will engage millennials and get them excited about joining your movement.
4. Millennials Believe All Assets Are Equal
For so long, nonprofits have segmented supporters into donors and volunteers — but millennials are not as easily categorized. Instead, millennials believe that their time, skills, money, advocacy and purchasing power hold equal value to a cause.
When millennials are inspired to take action, they show support in various ways and do not prioritize being a financial donor. Consistent with this belief, millennials will adjust their behaviors toward a cause based on the issue, as well as the opportunities given to engage. This social generation values connecting with others to rally behind a shared passion or interest. Offering opportunities to get involved beyond financial gifts will increasingly motivate millennials to support your mission.
5. Millennials Are Everyday Changemakers
Doing good and making the world a better place is a daily mission for this generation of “everyday changemakers.” Millennials value actions such as voting, changing their purchasing habits, donating and sharing relevant, digital content to advance social change.
With this in mind, nonprofits and foundations have an opportunity to engage millennials in a variety of ways that tap into their everyday habits. Partnering with corporate brands with aligned missions — like Patagonia and environmentally-focused organizations — can help create new engagement opportunities, expand audience reach and amplify fundraising efforts.
Connecting With Millennials For Good
Millennials care about social causes and are passionate about creating a better world. At their core, these “everyday changemakers” are just like any of your other donors. They are passionate humans who crave connecting and believe in the power of connected communities to create change for good.
Millennials will continue attempting to interact with causes in non-traditional ways, challenging the status quo. In order to gain their support, it is essential that you understand millennials, their journey as donors and the best way to tap into their tribal sense of advocacy.
To get a more in-depth look at how millennials engage with social causes, you can download the full Millennial Impact Report here.