Emboldening Millennials for Social Good

In the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, the story is clear – millennials are a giving generation.

Here’s what I mean:

  • 84 percent of millennial employees made a charitable donation in 2014
  • 70 percent of millennial employees spent at least an hour volunteering in 2014
  • 37 percent volunteered up to 10 hours and 31 percent volunteered more than 11 hours


These questions resonate across the generations as we look for ways to activate the millennial mindset. More notably, I sense a shift in how millennials view “nonprofits.” Nonprofit is itself an outdated word. What other industry is defined by what it is not?

Millennials want to contribute and have an impact.

For millennials, nonprofits become social good or social cause initiatives. The focus is on resolving challenges and lifting others up. Millennials want to contribute and have an impact. Organizations need to open new ways to embolden the millennial giving and impact mindset.


More than logistics or social media, millennials want to hone and apply their problem-solving skills. Opportunities structured to increase the depth of their knowledge and understanding of your social mission will generate more involvement. By engaging in real problems to be solved, millennials will understand the bigger story they can impact and then provide fresh thinking on how to solve specific problems.

Look at Param Jaggi, a Plano native and 2016 Social Innovation Luncheon Series speaker. He invented an algae-filled device that fits over the car tailpipe and turns carbon dioxide into oxygen. Param is not only solving an environmental problem, but he also is pursuing an important social cause. Tap into the innovative and creative talents of the next generation.


Many 20-somethings want to gain experience and use their talents in deeper ways. Working in social good organizations provides another layer for them to apply, learn, and grow while advancing your cause. Taking the time to identify the skill sets millennial volunteers would like to apply and deepen will pay dividends in many ways.

Offering opportunities to stretch skills also will increase commitment and facilitate greater results in achieving your social-good mission. Social Venture Partners Dallas recently launched a program – Partner & Partner – that gets to the heart of this mindset, matching local companies and their future leaders to local social-good organizations.


Mix them with people and groups of all ages; foster cross-mentoring – young to old, old to young. Building relationships across generations will facilitate greater sharing of experiences and skillsets, raising all generations up to new levels of understanding and performance. By bringing generations together, the result will be stronger leadership across the ages. What better way to build sustainability and growth to your important mission?

A new power is unleashed when we engage in new ways. When millennials are embraced fully, they shift from engagement to activism, which is where passion and talents meet and create a new enabling benefit to your mission and meaningful results.

Are you ready for this win-win opportunity in your social initiatives and ventures?

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Jon Mertz is a partner with SVP Dallas. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Through Thin Difference, Jon brings together a community to inspire M(...)