Want to engage millennials in causes, either through volunteering, giving money, or other means? Your best bet might be to appeal to them where they work.
That’s one of the main takeaways from the 5th Millennial Impact Report, put together by the creative agency for causes, Achieve, and sponsored by the Case Foundation. In previous years, the report has focused on how millennials (defined here as people born after 1979) choose to engage with causes in hopes that the information could help nonprofits attract young supporters. his time around, the report turns its focus to the for-profit world, examining how millennials engage in causes through the workplace.
The generation weaned on always-available connectivity has a hard time separating their personal lives from their professional lives–and that changes how they engage with causes, too. “There’s an interest in bringing together relationships people have in workplace and going beyond day-to-day normal work–doing service activities, blending the desire to do good with peers in the workplace,” says Emily Yu, the Case Foundation’s vice president of partnerships.
Out of 1,514 respondents, more than 50% said that a company’s involvement in various causes influenced whether they accepted a job. It’s not the top factor that decides whether they take a position, but it ranks in the top three (what a company does and its work culture are the top two). Females are more likely to be influenced by a company’s cause work than male candidates during the hiring process. Derrick Feldman, the president of Achieve, notes that women have historically high participation in philanthropy and causes. There were also more female respondents (56%) than male (44%) to the survey.
Once millennials have decided to work at a company, they’re more likely to stick around if they feel that their passions are fulfilled–and if they believe in the company’s mission. “It’s interesting how cause-related work has morphed from a little side thing, in terms of a company’s thinking, into something that could–and hopefully will–become one of the strongest tools in the arsenal for recruiting,” says Yu.
Some 87% of respondents said that they feel encouraged to participate in their company’s “cause work,” such as service days and company-wide giving campaigns. But even though giving campaigns are most popular, respondents say that they’d prefer to work on volunteer projects. Most, around 78%, would much prefer doing cause work in groups.
In spite of all this, enjoyment of company-wide volunteer days declined over time among the respondents. Some 92% of millennial employees said that they enjoy these experiences; that number drops over time to 81% of employees who have worked at a company for more than five years. The report’s authors speculate that this could be because of increasing age (and perhaps corresponding lack of enthusiasm), job responsibilities that grow over the years, or lack of confidence about a volunteer day’s real impact.
Nonetheless, over half of survey respondents said they are in favor of more company volunteer opportunities–specifically, volunteer days. Respondents also want to see more paid sabbaticals for volunteer work, as well as projects they can do with their departments or teams within a company.
Based on this year’s report, Feldman believes that companies should adopt a three-pronged approach for engaging millennials, offering company-wide volunteering, department-wide projects, and individual opportunities. Once those opportunities are in place, they need to prove that they’re actually making a difference, lest enthusiasm about volunteering decrease over time.