They’re not interested in structures or institutions, but youth sure are eager to support the causes they’re passionate about. In fact, this new wave of philanthropists — we’re dubbing “Generation Give” — believe social change is as important as profit (42% of youth under 30, as compared to 26% of adults over 45).
In addition, with their demand of social responsibility, products-for-purpose, and corporate philanthropy, the boundaries between nonprofit, social enterprise and business are blurring. Stakeholders are holding organizations more accountable for the work they do in return for the dollars spent, donated and invested.
Because Millennials, and their younger cohorts, are the first two generations of Americans to grow-up alongside cause-marketing, they’re quick to identify authentic social impact commitments over “good-washing” or “green-washing.”
For this reason, securing the public’s trust and money in support of a cause is not as simple as putting a ribbon on it or donating a portion of proceeds. According to Cone’s 2013 Social Impact Survey, “claims of caring are no longer sufficient, either to differentiate or make a difference.” Young stakeholders in particular, want to be turned into partners. This means, they want to shoulder some of the responsibility towards making the world a better place with a personal contribution.
Since Millennials and Plurals are defining themselves less by what they give or buy, and more by how their spending reflects who they are, organizations need to structure better stakeholder contribution opportunities for youth. Unlike older generations, young people will really only engage the brands that engage them.
While the amount of personal contribution varies by generation, it also varies based on what brand managers give their stakeholders to do! For example, organizations that embrace crowd-sourcing (ie co-creation/collaboration) can give their stakeholders a personal contribution opportunity to “weigh in” prior to a new product or service launch. Organizations that create crowd-funding mechanisms (ie spend/donate/invest) can facilitate personal contributions through the vote of the dollar. Both of these methods heighten awareness to individual and collective impact, which is important to youth.
Contrary to popular media portrayals of a spoiled, entitled and egocentric generation, youth are both extraordinary “contributors” and “givers.” Sure, the bulk of wealth still largely resides with the Boomers, but American Millennials account for an annual $1.3 trillion of current U.S. consumer spending or 27% of the total. Even pre-teen Plurals (aka Generation Z) have a weekly $11 dollar spend on average, or $43-billion a year.
From a standpoint of philanthropic spending, 60% of Millennials give an average of $481 per year across 3.3 charities and 90% of Plurals also give to charity, though in smaller donation amounts than their older cohorts. Individually youth are not significant donors perhaps. But collectively, they represent a significant source of new revenue.
That said, over the next 30-to-40 years, as Boomers transfer $30-trillion to their children, it won’t only be nonprofits that benefit from this transfer of wealth. Generation Give will also be contributing to profit-for-purpose, B-corporations and social enterprise organizations which show social impact and know how to structure meaningful contribution opportunities.