The Millennial Outlook on Philanthropy by Matthew Woodard

When people consider the most popular philanthropists today, the majority are distinguished professionals with extremely high net-worths and notable career achievements. However, to develop a more comprehensive and proactive approach, attention needs to turn toward the millennial generation.

By 2020, millennials will make up the largest percentage of the American workforce.

Millennials’ approach to work, the refusal to adhere to the traditional way of doing things and an open distaste for “settling down” to a 9-5 have made them a mystery and, at times, a threat to many employers. However, they are no longer inexperienced college students. The youngest millennials are approaching the tail end of their early twenties, and they are preparing to start the first leg of their careers.

Understanding how millennials perceive philanthropy is crucial when imagining the future of the industry as a whole.

Millennial’s Give More

Although often depicted as selfish and entitled, millennials are one of the most generous groups of the population. In 2014, 84 percent of the generation donated to charity, and they donate an average of $481 per year. While their actual contribution may not be as large fiscally as other generations, this could be attributed to the fact that the majority of millennials are strapped with lower-paying jobs, higher costs of living and student loan debt compared to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

What matters most is that millennials care. They are passionate about social equality and environmental policies. As their incomes increase and more millennials enter the workforce, it’s highly likely that they will also soon become the most active charitable generation in the country, too.

How Charities Can Connect With Millennials

One of the most admirable qualities of millennials is their desire for a meaningful life and personal involvement with the causes they support. Charities should hold events that give donors the opportunity to get actively involved; whether it’s giving aid directly or raising awareness with a race or other event, millennials enjoy being able to openly support and connect with the organizations they care about.

Personalization is also crucial. Online traffic makes it difficult for figures alone to stand out; charities must humanize themselves and their cause to reach a millennial audience and grab their attention.

The ultimate goal for any organization that wants to attract millennials should be establishing an authentic, ongoing relationship. The days of passive philanthropy are coming to a close, and the new generation of workers want to see a world that communicates and engages.

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