On September 18-19, 2014, VolunteerMatch will gather its corporate clients for a day and a half of learning, sharing and networking. The 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit will feature numerous sessions led by corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement thought leaders. In this series of posts, we’ll introduce you to each of the speakers and what they’ll discuss at the Summit.
Name: Derrick Feldmann
Organization: Achieve and MCON
The Session: “Redefine: The future of volunteer and cause engagement with Millennials”
What is one way you’ve transformed your personal or professional life recently for the better?
We all make assumptions. Every day, each of us makes decisions, significant and inconsequential, based on our preconceived ideas: We know what will happen if we do this. We’re sure how someone will react if we say that. We’re certain someone will or won’t understand Twitter based on their age.
Creating and conducting research for the Millennial Impact Project has made me keenly aware of my own assumptions.
I got interested in this question because over the years, I’ve heard a lot of assumptions about Millennials and their collective habits – lazy, entitled, narcissistic, the “Me Generation.” And as someone on the leading edge of the Millennial generation who is devoting his own career to supporting nonprofits, I wanted to know if hard evidence existed to support these claims.
In 2009, I formed a team to begin talking directly to Millennials to understand their preferences specifically related to cause work. By sharing our findings, we hoped to educate the public and, more specifically, companies looking to better engage this influential group.
Organizations of all types need to improve their understanding of Millennials, and soon. By spending $300 billion annually on discretionary goods, Millennials collectively play a significant role in our economy. What I think most companies haven’t considered, however, is that by the year 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce.
They not only will be defining American culture. They will be recreating the workplace.
In fact, we found that Millennials are already exerting a subtle (perhaps even unnoticed) effect on employers. We learned that a next-gen employee’s attitude toward a potential employer is colored by whether or not the employer engages in cause work. Most surprisingly, we uncovered that this generation, though often accused of being isolationist because of their attention to social media, is in fact highly influenced by their peers when it comes to cause work – and that many of those influential peers are their co-workers.
Millennials are engaged in social causes, many of them through workplace programs. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report showed that 44% of Millennial employees participated in company-wide service days the previous year, and 47% had done a volunteer project with their immediate co-workers (teams or departments). And they wanted more: The #1 cause-related program Millennial employees wanted to see more of was company-wide volunteer opportunities, especially if they could get involved with those they work side-by-side with every day.
I also had another assumption shattered: A Millennial is much more likely to accept a position offered to them if they were told of the company’s cause work during the recruitment process. But that’s another transformative topic for another blog post!
As Crain’s writer Andrew Swinand said, “If you want to understand the magnitude of opportunities available to organizations that align with charities, consider this: For Millennials…social responsibility is the new religion.”
Talking to 16,000 Millennials has transformed my attitude toward assumptions. I hope CEOs and HR managers in every industry will use my experience and our research to explore their own assumptions – and perhaps find themselves transformed, too.
P.S. You can download the full research report at themillennialimpact.com.
About Derrick Feldmann:
Derrick Feldmann, President of Achieve, is a speaker, author, and researcher on the latest issues related to Millennials and causes. With continued research efforts through the Millennial Impact Project, as well as leading the implementation of MCON, Derrick has become a thought leader in the ever-changing world of cause fundraising. He is the co-author of “Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement,” and remains a sought-after speaker on the latest trends in fundraising, online engagement, and Millennials.
Derrick also strives to maintain close relationships with Achieve clients, helping them formulate and execute successful marketing and fundraising strategies. Derrick writes and contributes regularly for Philanthropy News Digest of the Foundation Center and the Huffington Post IMPACT channel. He is also a member of the Leadership Faculty of the Points of Light Corporate Institute and a guest lecturer for the School of Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.
This year’s event is generously supported by: General Motors, MGM Resorts International, Delta Air Lines, The United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Newell Rubbermaid.