The world today is rapidly changing around us. From technology to the challenges our communities face, it’s rare that we move on each year without a shift from the status quo.
Volunteering is no different.
In the past, not so long so, during the reign of Generation X, they connected with non-profit organizations. However, for Generation X volunteering was mostly about philanthropy. They would find a charity that aligned with their values and tugged at their heartstrings.
In comparison, millennials are more hands-on. They are the generation that thinks with their mind and want to give more than money – they want to contribute as they know more about the cause and become emotionally invested. They need a purpose in life and volunteering is one way for them to find meaning while doing something they are passionate about and will help them in their professional development.
Engaging the Millennials
Compared with everything else on a millennial’s plate, it is essential to link the volunteering activity to a passion the person already has. For example, book-lovers could enjoy recording audio books for the visually challenged.
Millennials have extensive networks and understand the pulse of the online world and know what gets popular. Showing millennials they can make a difference by helping an awareness campaign online — just by liking and sharing — can open their eyes to how the things they already do can be harnessed for good.
Here are six things that drive millennials in their volunteering zeal.
Honing and developing skills:
Within the corporate world, millennials are the generation that make-up the ‘new work-force’. So, giving them avenues where they can sharpen their existing skills and develop soft skills such as team building, goal setting, problem-solving, and adaptability to help them in their professional growth while doing something that will give them a purpose that aligns with their passion, piques their interest, and keep them engaged. This may also help them in discovering abilities and interests they were previously unaware of. For example, when Brillio volunteers taught school students 3D design printing, they ended up brushing their basics and learning more about 3D design printing; a win-win situation.
Volunteering during work hours:
For a start, this requires a work culture that provides both meaningful tasks and connection to the outside world. As millennials make their presence known in more and more corporate leadership roles, they look for organizations that offer them corporate volunteering opportunities. By giving them opportunities to get out and get involved, millennials will feel more connected. At Brillio, we organize TGIF wherein our employees spend one to two hours every Friday helping students with their school work either in person or via Skype.
Random Act of Responsivity:
One of the benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. It is among the first few things that millennials look for as it allows them to connect to the community and make it a better place with random act of kindness. This can be something as simple as picking up trash from the side of the road to switching off the lights and fans when there is no one in the room.
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small donations from a large number of people. Millennials are taking full advantage of this unique opportunity to make their charitable work go that much further. They go online, talk about their cause, and gather support and funds for the cause.
Create your own:
Today, there are tools online that don’t just give young people access to information but also allow them to create their own materials. So, when they can’t find an initiative in which they are interested, millennials want the opportunity and empowerment to strike out on their own. For example, using digital media to spread awareness on issues like road safety or creating an app for women safety.
Voice @ Social media:
From a young age, millennials have had access to expressing themselves, their interests and their causes in different ways on different channels. Their constant connection to the online world also allows them to be exposed to more issues, which has created a particularly empathetic generation. They want to reach out and help, and their tech-savvy ways enable them to make significant impact and social media has given them a voice for the causes they are concerned about. They write blogs, scout for support or raise social concerns they have on social media.
We conducted a survey last year to assess the impact of volunteering at Brillio and get feedback and suggestions to improve our programs to engage them. The majority of respondents who took part in the survey were millennials. Through the survey we learned that,
96% of employees feel that volunteering has assisted in improving their productivity
96% of found their stress levels reduced
94% of employees who participate in volunteer programs are likely to recommend Brillio to a friend or family.
This survey helped us understand the pulse of our employees and identify the gaps in our volunteering. To ensure your volunteering programs are aligned to your employees’ needs and interests, it’s important that you revisit your volunteering programs at regular intervals to understand the gaps and realign efforts accordingly. While revisiting your volunteering efforts remember to align them with the three P’s that drive the new age workforce — Passion, Purpose, and Professional Development.
About the Author
Abhishek Ranjan heads the CSR, Sustainability, D&I and Employee Outreach at Brillio. He also serves as the Managing Trustee of the Brillio Foundation. He was named as one of the “100 Most Impactful CSR Leaders (Global Listing)” at the World CSR Congress in 2016.