Millennials, or Gen Y, is anyone born in the years from the early 1980s up until 2000. They currently make up about 50% of the world’s population and are often referred to as ‘entitled’, ‘apathetic’ and ‘selfish’. Furthermore the Charities Aid Foundation reported that 42% of those aged 16-24 had been ‘involved in charitable giving to social action’ within the last month, compared with 63% in the 45-64 age category. This cumulatively paints a negative picture for charities about the interest of Millennials, and is unsurprisingly causing concern.
However, although biased as a Millennial, I strongly agree with the assertion in USA Today by Carrie Swanson that ‘Instead of this generation being called the the selfish generation… they should be called the misunderstood generation’ (http://usat.ly/Jfml99). Millennials do give to, interact with, and care about charities, they just do it in a different way.
They Way They Give:
Previously it was common for people to give directly from their paychecks. However the latest Millennial Impact Report found that this was seen among only 11% of Millennials, despite 84% donating to charity. (http://wapo.st/1HvYLe0) In contrast 62% donate via mobile platforms.(http://usat.ly/Jfml99) Heartbreaking TV adverts and being approached on the street or at home will not warm your cause to this younger group. My friends certainly hate these tactics and I’m sure this is felt among other Millennials too. Having grown up with technology, Millennials expect to be able to give easily, we are more likely to give in conjunction with events and to look up a charity before we give. The fact that over one month, less 16-24’s donated could be related to the fact that this age group is unlikely to be financially secure enough to donate monthly, but rather as one-offs throughout the year. These ways of giving are different to older age groups and may be mistaken as a sign of not caring.
They Way They Interact:
The prevalence of technology has also impacted the way Millennial interact with Charities. Although likely to do their research on a charity, decisions to act tend to be much more impulsive than has been seen in previous generations. Any barriers to giving or volunteering are much more likely to halt their involvement; 50% are likely to be irritated if they cannot easily find information. With smartphone ownership at 83% is is increasingly essential that website are mobile-friendly, yet ‘83% of charities did not have a ‘mobile strategy’. (http://bit.ly/1qQVLpK) Most Millennials are online and checking social media everyday, so having a strong online presence is essential. Without it, charities are missing engagement with a crucial age group and without opportunities to engage in this way it make it seem like Millennials care less than they really do.
What They Care About:
According to Scott Harrison from Charity: water there has been an evolution in what people care about as a generation, from caring about a charity as a whole, to caring about specific causes, to wanting to help very specific groups of people or individuals (http://ti.me/1KUXun8). This, in part, can be seen through the successes of Humans of New York. The comments section on facebook is often filled with people wanting to help and they have in the past managed to raise significant sums of money. Millennials really want to be able to identify with the cause that they are supporting, and trust who they are giving money to. Therefore updates on what has been achieved by a charity they might support is essential, both in deciding to donate for the first time but also for ongoing support. We want to know, when we are giving money and time, that it will actually make a difference rather than doing it out of a sense of obligation. Furthermore 55% would consider the involvement of a company with charities when deciding to accept a job with them. (http://bit.ly/1UnG3hH)
Therefore it seems unjust to say that Millennials do not care about charity. We just want to give quicker, interact online and know we are really making a difference. It’s precisely due to these factors that organisations which allow you support charities digitally and easily are so great and have been able to flourish. We need to help Millennials give and be involved in a way that comes naturally to them in order to secure the maximum benefit for charities. Just because Millennials do things differently, it doesn’t mean they don’t care.