Why Millennials Are Going to Keep You on Your Toes

first_imgUnJourUneBlaque, FlickrRemember how younger folks used to trust no one over thirty? And they rebelled? And they rolled their eyes at authority?Well, I picked the right time to be a parent, because apparently my near-millennials are going to be different.I was recently on a panel with the director of research at MTV, Nick Shore, who pointed out that today’s millennials aka Gen Y aka Echo Boomers are NOT rebels and NOT without a cause. Teens today are different. While the prevailing characteristics of teens years ago were prevailingly rebellious, irreverent and focused on friends and fun, today’s teens show more conformity, respect for family and responsibility. And while the number that describe themselves as religious has dropped precipitously, far more say they want to make the world a better place.They are also optimistic to an incredible degree: One in five believes they will be famous. And 80 percent believe they’ll reach their life goals by age 30. Then today on NPR, I hear that millennials trust their parents – and their government:“The millennials are quite positive toward other big institutions — like corporations and the military and faith — so it does give you the feeling that it’s a different generation,” says Tufts University researcher Peter Levine. Levine says young people today are not angry or alienated like previous generations were. “They don’t define in terms of opposition or trying to smash everything. They don’t have a generation gap, really. They really cite parents as role models or political guides. The current thing is you call your mom on your cell phone to ask what she thinks, which I really don’t think was a ’60s attitude,” Levine says. Put this picture together with a study from Achieve that shows this is translating into higher expectations from nonprofits:“Millennial donors want more than a transactional relationship. They want to be engaged,” said Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve. “They need to feel a connection with an organization, and they want opportunities for deeper involvement, such as opportunities to work with leadership and to help craft direction for the organization. Plus, they want to know specifically how their gifts will benefit the organization’s constituents.” I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: The biggest thing that needs to change this year is how we think about our donors. We are in the midst of an enormous generational shift that has major implications for our work. Younger donors expect engagement and involvement. They are anything but passive. Think of it this way. Just as in marketing we have left the broadcast era where consumers passively take in promotional messages, we have left the low-expectation donor era. This generation is going to keep us on our toes.Let’s not disappoint this bright-eyed, eager group of budding activists. And let’s be glad they aren’t rolling their eyes at us either.last_img

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