Millennials Discover a Whole World of Philanthropy
Millennials Discover a Whole World of Philanthropy
As the former volunteer co-ordinator for five years with the Calgary International Children's Festival, Kristin Eveleigh was responsible for recruiting about 600 volunteers to help during the festival and many of them were so-called Millennials - the demographic that follows Generation X and who were generally born in the 1980s or early '90s. "There is a multitude of reasons why these young people were volunteering and why they still volunteer," says Eveleigh, who is now the artistic director of the Calgary Young People's Theatre.
The Millennial generation, who are mostly in their 20s now, are often still in school or just starting their careers and therefore don't have as much money to donate as they do time. "Older generations are able to donate more monetarily," Eveleigh says. The statistics back that up. The highest rates of volunteering were found among young Canadians, while those who give the most money are more likely to be older, have higher household incomes and more formal education, according to Statistics Canada's National Survey of Giving.
The likelihood of volunteering later in life appears to be linked to a number of early life experiences during one's primary or secondary schooling. Canadians donated a total of $10 billion in 2007, the last year for which data is available, which represents an increase of 12 per cent in monetary donations from 2004. The average annual donation increased by nine per cent, from $400 in 2004 to $437 in 2007. Donations were lowest among 15-to 24-year-olds ($142) and peaked at $611 for those over age 65.
Charities realize the Millennial demographic lacks the same amount of monetary resources as their parents and older generations, which is why many of them are trying to engage this generation through volunteering. Money helps, but non-profit organizations rely heavily on this generation for free labour and expertise, a key contributor that represents just as much value as a donation of money in many cases.
"Youth can have a voice in the community, they can volunteer (and) make a difference," says Lisa Kindree, assistant director of Youth Central, whose largest program is its Youth Volunteer Corps. Her organization works with more than 150 community agencies and events to provide volunteer opportunities for teams of 12-to 18-year-olds. "We hope by giving them these opportunities when they're young, that they'll continue to do it when they're adults," she says.
Kindree herself is on the cusp of the Millennial generation, falling into the edge of generation X in her mid-30s. Most of her staff and volunteers, however, are Millennials who want to make a difference in their community, but lack the money to donate or the connections to volunteer.
By partnering with so many community groups, Youth Volunteer Corps make philanthropy and charitable giving, in its broadest sense, more accessible to the Millennial generation. "They could be at the food bank one day, at the homeless shelter the next day or helping with different walk-and-run events the next weekend," Kindree says. "They're just getting so many different exposures to the diversity of the Calgary community and really getting involved."
Some organizations are trying to make it easier for Millennials to make monetary donations by tapping into the power of technology and social media. CanadaHelps.org, for example, works to promote giving by working with sites such as Facebook to tap into networks of friends and groups to boost donations. It collects donations on behalf of charitable or-ganizations across Canada and utilizes social media that Millennials are familiar with and use daily or weekly.
Bryan de Lottinville, president and CEO of Calgary-based Benevity Social Ventures Inc., offers a webbased software-as-a-service that allows companies to tailor a web page and embed it into their existing website so employees can personalize it to pick charities of their choice. Benevity aggregates funds throughout the year into a "bucket" that can be maintained year-round, while workers can choose how their donations are spent.
What's been lacking is a cost-effective means for people - regardless of financial means - to donate as they are able to do so, which could help Millennials more easily make small contributions throughout the year instead of larger, lump-sum donations. Financial experts say it's important for this generation - for anybody, really - to give according to their ability and not to extend themselves beyond what's reasonable.
If you can't donate money, volunteering is a good way to make a contribution of time or by lending your own skills and expertise to provide services free of charge.
Benevity Social Ventures, Inc., is a software social enterprise whose platform, products and services increase the social and business impacts of investments in social responsibility and giving back. Benevity’s microdonation software enables businesses of all types to better engage their customers and employees by delivering cause marketing, community investment, workplace giving and other charitable programs that are easy to deploy, easy to use and deliver greater ROI. The Benevity platform also powers Spark! by Benevity - its best-in-class, enterprise workplace giving software. Spark! provides a secure, scalable, easy-to-use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that helps companies attract, retain and better engage their employees.
Benevity is a for-profit social enterprise that passionately pursues a strong social mission as part of its overall mandate and vision. As a registered “B Corporation”, Benevity is committed to meeting higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
To find out more or request a demo, visit us online at www.benevity.org.