Money & Business

Report: The Shifting Nature of How Millennials Perceive Causes

By / Nov 29, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new retrospective report from Achieve and the Case Foundation points to a shifting understanding of how millennials get involved in activist and philanthropic efforts. Nonprofits, the report says, have to continue shifting their strategies to attract younger generations.

As millennials have aged, so has our understanding of the younger, increasingly important generation.

It’s something that the cause-focused research and marketing agency Achieve is well aware of. Over the past five years, Achieve, which is sponsored by the Case Foundation, has heard from more than 75,000 millennials regarding their habits, their demeanors, and their approach to charitable giving, as part of its annual Millennial Impact Report. On Tuesday, Achieve released a five-year retrospective on the report, which looked back on some of the things it’s learned about generation Y over the years in relation to causes. (The 2016 edition of the report, which will cover the recent election, is still in the works.)

One big thing highlighted by the retrospective? Simply, millennials are a generation initially underestimated and misunderstood by the public.

“The size and force of the millennial generation combined with social media and pivotal world events of the past five years require nonprofits to develop new ways of engaging audiences lest they risk being left behind as millennial preferences fundamentally alter cause engagement,” the report states.

The retrospective focuses on common threads that showed themselves during previous reports—among them, the fact that millennials commonly donated time and small amounts of money to a wide variety of nonprofits, often gave to causes they were specifically passionate about, and would often give in direct response to peer influence.

The retrospective also found that demographic differences in millennials played a role. Female millennials gave more often than males, and older millennials gave more often than younger ones. But other factors stayed the same, such as the interest in the use of digital technology to give and the drive to gain skills through philanthropy.

Derrick Feldmann, the president of Achieve and the lead researcher of the retrospective report, emphasized the key place technology holds for millennials.

“Our research found digital technology is playing a vital role in how millennials engage with causes and influence each other to do so,” Feldmann said in an emailed news release. “As crowdfunding campaigns like #GivingTuesday continue to grow, it’s critical that organizations alter their approaches so they can engage this generation’s inherent desire to do good.”

The report ultimately emphasizes that millennials are moving toward more activism, but nonprofits have to continually shift their strategies to meet this audience.

Curious to learn more? The full report is available on the Millennial Impact website.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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