“Kids these days”: The millennial generation

Does it feel like the millennial generation is speaking a foreign language? With their eyes glued to computer, smartphone and tablet screens, it seems that today’s young adults are uninterested in face-to-face communication and that they’re lazy and can’t drag themselves away from their electronic devices.

It’s true that the millennial generation differs greatly from other generations. As a millennial myself, I hear the exasperated sigh of, “kids these days…” far too much. Stereotypes tell us that we’re lazy, narcissistic, materialistic, unsettled and that we don’t know how to manage money. We are overly dependent on technology and don’t contribute enough to society.

However, I would like to de-bunk a few of these stereotypes. We may love our iPhones and take way too many selfies, but an article by the Huffington Post suggests that millennials are a force to be reckoned with in the nonprofit sector.

According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Research Report, 72 percent of millennials said that they were eager to join a nonprofit organization and more than 50 percent said that they would like to give to a charitable organization monthly.

Because millennials are so incredibly tech-savvy, they are often able to find out the ins-and-outs of a company with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. Social media allows us to become engaged with a company or organization and to gather and absorb information almost instantly. So, while it may appear that us millennials are impulsive when it comes to throwing our money at a new pair of shoes or a nonprofit’s cause, it’s likely that we have already connected with the company or organization on Facebook, checked the reviews and looked at their website; probably all while we w
ere also making dinner, catching up on the news and responding to emails.

Derrick Feldman, CEO of Achieve in Indianapolis, in an article in The Non Profit Times further explains this phenomenon, saying that impulsivity is a trait that the millennial generation has, but it’s
up to nonprofit organizations to make sure that their website holds attention and keeps millennials interested enough to actually donate.

He cautions us about “That moment when they see a message and say, ‘I want to give right now,’ they take out their phone, go to your website and they become uninspired. We have to
take that impulsivity and move with it,” said Feldman.

Instant feedback from an organization is vital to millennials, which means we are not looking to give to an organization, we want to give to a cause. We want to know, right then and there, how our donation will help the cause that resonated with us. And, since we are constantly connected, it’s likely that our group of friends will be up-to-speed on that cause and our opinions of it within a matter of seconds. Feldman’s advice on how nonprofits should deal with this:

“The impact they want is what you’re doing with their money along the process. Send an email that says thanks for the donation last week, we’re getting ready to put it to work,” said Feldman.

In my millennial generation, things move fast. In a few clicks we can spend hundreds of dollars on Amazon, file our taxes, look up driving directions, creep on high school ex-boyfriends… And learn all about that charitable organization that struck a chord with us in order to decide if we want to donate. We may be impulsive, but we have a world of resources at our fingertips.