On Philanthropy: Keep Calm -- and Enjoy Your Millennial Makeover

Nonprofits and for-profits transforming for nation's largest population segment

Millennial and seasoned professional both in suits standing together working on their tablet and portfolioContributed by AFPSEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
February 23, 2018 issue

Despite their differences, the nonprofit and for-profit sectors agree on one thing:  Millennials can be confounding.

Misconceptions abound.  Millennials have been labeled as self-involved, disengaged and difficult to work with.  At the same time, they’re a generation focused on the greater good, with both the passion and drive to shape the future.

For corporations, solving the Millennial puzzle means appealing to them as consumers and employees.  As consumers, Millennials patronize companies that are committed to giving back.  As employees, they thrive in transparent, trustworthy companies with strong corporate social responsibility practices.  Increasingly, companies are shaping themselves to appeal to Millennial sensibilities.

For nonprofits, the challenge is figuring out how to appeal to Millennials as donors.  They have neither the resources nor the dutiful attitudes that made their Boomer and Gen X forebears so generous.  That said, their altruism leads them to give what they can, when they can.  Nonprofits are adapting by creating emotive social media campaigns and allowing for micro-giving opportunities with clear impact on the populations they serve.  If Millennials understand their impact, and trust the nonprofits handling their donations, they will continue their support.

Millennials have just surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation's largest population segment -- but have no fear!  As a generation, they are already changing the nation, evolving the face of both business and philanthropy.  The stakes are high, but with faith and innovation, corporations and nonprofits will learn to surf the Millennial wave.

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal and is contributed monthly to the Milwaukee Business Journal on behalf of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.