Millennials and the Changing Landscape of Service
Today’s guest blog comes from Beth Kimberly, AmeriCorps alum and Social Media Manager at PlayWorks
Last week, I was invited to attend the first Millennial Donors Summit, as an AmeriCorps Alum. (Great perk, right!?) Put on by the Case Foundation, this was my (and many others’) first all day virtual conference. I’ve attended many webinars, but this was different–a day of learning and connecting with people while in the comfort of my office. Who could pass that up?
With dozens of new media experts, the summit addressed the millennial donors research completed just this year and used the findings to expand thoughts on engaging this new generation, that is expected to be 50% of the workforce by 2020. Though I’d never identified as one before, I quickly learned that I, too, am a millennial.
Millennials were born in the last 20-35 years, 93% of us gave to nonprofits in 2010, and 63% of us gave to three or more organizations. We are motivated to give by a compelling mission or cause, a personal connection to the leadership of the organization, and/or a friend or peer endorsement. Fifty-eight percent of us identified our largest gift was less than $150, while 79% volunteered in 2010. In fact, of those who did not volunteer, 45% said it was because they simply were not asked. (The number one reason for not volunteering, however, was lack of time.)
Over all, we value trust and engagement. We do our research about nonprofits on the web. And 58% of millennials prefer to give online. Do you identify with these findings, I sure do? Entering the workforce, I looked to engage in nonprofit work by serving our community. As an AmeriCorps member in San Jose, I lead YouthCorps members through their own service learning, recruited adults to finish their high school diploma, pulled weeds, picked up litter and supported local events. If I wanted to help out or find out more about a cause or organization, the first thing I did was volunteer. By volunteering, I saw the organization in action, the inside working of the cause and often met organizational leaders.
Attending the Millennial Donors Summit, I found these same qualities present. The software (new to me) was intriguing, but initially confusing! I took to Twitter and was quickly talking with a behind- the-scenes rep for #MDS11. This inside look and knowledge was rewarding. Each presentation varied. The speaker spoke live on video and shared slides. My favorite speakers were active in the live chat room, answering listeners’ questions while still on camera.
Searching for other ways to engage (while standing at my office desk), I spent as much time chatting with other attendees and presenters on Twitter as I did in the presentations. When a speaker spent little time interacting with the audience and the chat room was quiet, I found myself bored. And then I was reminded that I am a true millennial, looking for engagement, inside knowledge and a way to serve my favorite cause. No wonder millennials find AmeriCorps service and volunteering rewarding!
Beth Kimberly is the Social Media Manager at Playworks – www.playworks.org – a national nonprofit organization that supports schools by providing safe, healthy and inclusive play and physical activity at recess and throughout the entire day. Playworks has over 150 AmeriCorps members who serve as coaches in urban communities across the country.