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The authors said the members of Generation X and millennials will be “the most significant philanthropists in history” because of the estimated $59 trillion in wealth that is currently being transferred to them from their aging baby boomer parents and grandparents. The prosperous members of these younger generations are also cashing in on a better economy.
“We see that these next generations aren’t just waiting until the sunset of their lives to be donors, like previous generations of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller and others did, but are really giving earlier,” Goldseker said. “They’re seeing the needs are great, and they have the resources to make a difference. So, they’re starting to give an incredible amount at early stages.”
Moody said although the research isn’t firm, there are indications that the wealth available to the next generations for the purpose of charitable giving is going to be more significant than ever.
“That overall number will go up, we think, over time and certainly with the economy and with wealth transfer,” he said. “But more and more of the percentage of that that is driven by the Gen Xers and millennials, particularly at the top end of the economic spectrum, is going to continue to go up. They’re probably not the majority right now. I think we can say that. But they will be in the next 10, 20 years.”
Blurring the Line Between Profit and Philanthropy
The next generation doesn’t want to separate money into buckets, with one for profit and another for charitable giving. They would rather have one big bucket.
“They’re not really as concerned about the difference between giving in one sector versus making money in another sector, versus doing public work in a third sector, a government sector,” Moody said. “They’re eager to sort of blur those boundaries. And they believe very clearly that they can do as much good, maybe even more good, through what they do in the business sector [by] either investing significant assets in socially responsible ways or supporting businesses that have a double or a triple bottom line.” As a result, their philanthropic investments may not necessarily show up in official estimates of charitable giving.
Goldseker agreed and said it’s time to do away with the stereotype of millennials as entitled slackers. “What we really saw, the top three reasons for giving among these generations, they’re supporting a mission or cause that fits with my personal values, fulfilling my duty as a person of privilege to give back to society, and seeing that my contribution makes a real difference and the organization has real impact,” she said. “As these people are entering the working world and having more resources, they are caring about values more than valuables, and they’re making choices in alignment with those values.”
The New Rules of Engagement
The changing nature of donors translates into new challenges for the leaders of charitable organizations. They will need to find better ways to attract these donors if they want to ensure the sustainability of their organizations.
“The biggest consequence for charitable organizations is going to be, they’ve got to retool how they think about engaging major donors,” Moody said. “The next generation wants to be much more closely involved in hands-on ways inside the organization. The line we use is that they’re less interested in having their name on the outside of the building as a big donor. They’re more interested on being inside, working side by side on real problems, giving their talent, not just their treasure. That means that organizations are going to have to be more transparent with these major donors. They’re going to have to find ways for them to engage in real problem solving and give them ways to be hands on.”
Frankly, Moody said, next-gen donors will be more “high maintenance.” But they will also be more loyal and better for the organization in the long run.
The authors also noted that newer donors are more willing to experiment with different ways of leveraging impact, so organizations should, too. Goldseker offered an example in Daniel Lurie, who runs Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit that fights poverty in the San Francisco area.
“He’s featured in the impact chapter of our book,” she said. “And he says, very concretely, ‘Good intentions are not enough. We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect better results. We actually need to do something different. We need to be innovative. We need to fund our indie in the nonprofit world just like we would in the corporate world to be able to finally move the needle on some of these entrenched issues.'”
The next generation is more willing to take some risks “because they think it’s a greater risk not to,” Goldseker added. “There are pressing social issues in our world that haven’t been solved, and at the front end of their lives, they have the time and the energy and the inclination to make a difference. So, they’re willing to fund C4s, to do crowdfunding.”
Future Areas of Giving
There is an assumption that the younger generation heavily favors global and environmental causes over local or traditional causes. But the authors said that notion is incorrect.
“We found actually their interests are pretty similar to previous generations,” Moody said. “There are some differences around, for example, giving to climate change and for LGBT rights and other human rights and advocacy. There are some changes that are emerging there, so we certainly think those causes are going to be more prominent in the future. But again, they’re not going to give up on health care and education and basic needs. What will be different is that they’re probably going to be giving to different kinds of organizations within those causes. They want to give to smaller organizations. They don’t really like to give to big institutions in which their contribution, no matter how big, is still in some ways a drop in the bucket.”
That means umbrella organizations such as United Way or the Jewish Federation will have a particular challenge in courting future donors. “That part of this philanthropic landscape is going to transform, I think, a little bit. And I think they’re aware of that and trying to adjust,” he said.
Goldseker summed up the changes with a story about Victoria Rogers, who grew up on the Chicago’s tough South Side as the daughter of John Rogers, one of the most successful African-American money managers and philanthropists in the United States. Her father encouraged her to volunteer starting at the age of 12. By the time she reached her 20s, she already had 10 years of experience volunteering in the nonprofit sector.
“She’s now on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum … and Creative Time, and not brand-new to this field,” Goldseker said. “Sometimes I think nonprofits look at 20-somethings and think, ‘You must just be starting out, so I’m dealing with your parents and grandparents.’ Actually, millennials have been volunteering and participating in nonprofit life for decades already.”
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Some millennials want to put their money where their mouth is.
In news that may not be particularly surprising, inequality for the millennial generation is on track to be the highest-recorded. It’s an issue that concerns a lot of us, but many young people don’t have the power to make institutional changes. However, that doesn’t mean this generation is powerless to make change. Change really can start at the individual level, no matter what cause you’re dedicated to. Millennials are not a generation that sits around and laments the way things are; we’ve shown ourselves to be politically active.
What are wealthy millennials doing?
Some millennials who already have inherited wealth want to give back to causes they support. An Atlantic article tracking this phenomenon notes that $30 trillion in inheritance money is set to be doled out over the next four decades or so, and with that money comes millennials who are eager to put it to causes they support. Interestingly, millennial philanthropy is happening across the political spectrum, as children of conservative donors pick up the mantle and left-leaning wealthy millennials support causes they’re passionate about.
Wealthy donors are not a new concept, but for a generation that is big on ethical responsibility, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many are willing to give money to causes they believe in. Even some members of the so-called “1 percent” have aligned themselves with the rest of country, joining organizations such as Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy individuals who support higher taxes on the wealthy and a higher minimum wage. When millennials come into the whole of their inheritance money, it may be likely that we’ll see more of them join organizations like this.
What are the rest of us doing?
Yes, some of these causes are going to be overtly political, and many of us are far from wealthy, but what’s notable is the philosophy itself behind millennial philanthropy at all levels. A piece in Forbes describes millennials as “a generation characterized by integrating the causes they care about” into how they spend money, something that isn’t noted of previous generations. This article proceeds to describe a site that offers prepaid gift cards that give a portion to charitable causes of the buyer’s choice, including an interview with the excited founder. Millennials will spend extra to support things they care about, he says.
This is true, and it isn’t just gift cards and fundraising platforms that millennials give their extra money to. The companies themselves that millennials support are ones that align with their values. This is another trait common to this generation: millennials will spend their money at companies they trust, companies who do good in the eyes of millennial consumers, even if they’re paying more. A whopping 87 percent of surveyed millennials say they’d spend their money at a company that supports an issue they also feel passionate about.
Takeaway
As a generation, we have a lot of work to do to change the world, but we’re equipped to do it, bit by bit. There’s been a sea change in consumption habits that’s led companies to be more charitable to attract millennial spenders, and millennials are willing at all levels of wealth to directly support certain causes. Wealthy millennials may even work on closing income inequality or end up pumping large sums of money into projects such as environmental conservation or social justice reforms. What exactly will happen remains to be seen, but regardless, this generation is up to the challenge to shake things up through millennial philanthropy.
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In my millennial and philanthropy research, I came across a millennial consumer behavior study on Forbes with 10 key findings. Those findings from the consumer side combined with the Millennial Impact 100 from the philanthropy side made me more clearly see:
3 Ways In Which Millennials Are Different Than Other Donors
1. Millennials are more active than other donors
Millennials tend to give more frequently, in small amounts, to more causes. And they also want, and expect, more communication about their donation. But beyond that, they want some opportunities to get their hands dirty. Especially if it means they get to meet other people, use their skills, and maybe even advance their own career in some way. In that millennial consumer behavior study, 42% of millennials said they wanted to help companies develop future products and services.
Key takeaway: They want to give, sure, but they want to feel involved in your work and benefit by being a part of it.
Ideas you can use:
Create a junior board and/or be intentional about having millennials represented on your board, committees, and leadership to help guide and create future strategiesDevelop or partner on a young professionals network where they can meet other young professionals but also meet older, more experienced people who can help them in their careerPost volunteer opportunities online that people can find and do as a group – with their company or with their friends
2. Millennials are more peer driven than other donors
This isn’t just about peer fundraising – although strong peer networks and influence certainly helps – but it’s about how millennials get and trust information. The millennial consumer behavior mentioned earlier found, “only 1% of millennials said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more“. Or as the research summary post put it:
"Millennials connect best with people over logos."
Key takeaway: They trust the messages they get from their peers more than the messages they get straight from you.
Ideas you can use:
Ask millennials, specifically and personally, to share key information and posts for youPartner with influencers, blogs, and people with strong social media followings to help you get your message out instead of buying ads or using traditional mediaCreate a peer to peer fundraising campaign where they are able to, and asked, to use their network and skills for good – for you
3. Millennials are more trust sensitive than other donors
Trust is a common theme amongst millennial research. In the aforementioned consumer behaviour study, they found that millennials value authenticity over content and blogs over traditional media. But if you are able to connect with millennials, earn their attention and keep their trust, they can be quite loyal as:
"60% said that they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase. The sooner you build a relationship and deep connection with millennials, the better because they will continue to purchase from you as an adult."
Key takeaway: You have to demonstrate you are trustworthy to them before they get involved, and you have to keep that trust to keep them involved.
Ideas you can use:
Send more frequent updates (via email and social media) on your work, outcomes, and progress. Don’t wait 6 months and post a PDF on your website…Use trustmarks, seals, and social proof from respected institutions and supporters to show you are worthy of attention and investmentFrame your work and appeals for donations/fundraising in SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound) ways
I hope there are some useful stats, tips, and resources on millennials and philanthropy for you. Good luck!
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As we kick off the 2017 holiday season, giving back is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. For 2016, individuals, estates, foundations and corporations donated an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities according to “Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016.” Specifically, individuals and households saw an increase in giving by 3.9 percent over 2015.
While many might not automatically associate charitable giving with millennials, people might be surprised to learn that the millennial generation is actually changing the landscape for nonprofit organizations and causes around the world. In fact, there have been several articles just this year noting the disruption millennials are causing in charitable giving, as nonprofit organizations scurry to implement new technology and programs to meet the expectations and needs of this generation.
The old way of reaching out to and collecting donations just doesn’t connect to today’s digitally savvy contributors — millennial or otherwise. The days of sending a letter requesting a donation with a return envelope are over. Many people don’t even use a checkbook anymore, much less pay much attention to what shows up in the mailbox.
So, where are people finding causes to contribute to? Social media.
Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge that went viral a couple of years ago? It took on a life of its own and got people to donate to a cause most knew nothing about. Why? Because it allowed people to visually broadcast their charitable response — something millennials especially love to do.
Our generation (and those coming behind us) have been raised in the digital age, where broadcasting our lives is as much a part of our daily routine as eating and sleeping. And, not only do we use social media to transmit our own life happenings, but we expect to be able to follow the broadcasts of our friends and influencers. And seeing what others are doing can certainly inspire people to check out certain charities and get involved in the causes their friends and influencers care about.
Another charitable giving demand social media has inspired for millennials? Transparency.
With the rise of social media came an overall expectation of greater transparency — from companies, brands and organizations — as people expected to be able to dig deeper into a company’s mission, vision and culture by following them on social media and, thus, learning how they are making a difference in the world.
Millennials care about where their money is going, whether purchasing a product from a company or donating to a charity. An article in Fast Company in October of this year, titled “As Millennials Demand More Meaning, Older Brands Are Not Aging Well,” noted that for brands to continue to perform well with millennials and other “consumers of the future,” they need to have (and communicate) a clear mission.
Charitable giving falls in line with this same expectation — it’s important for us to know exactly how our donations will be spent and how big that impact is on the world around us.
It’s also not all about the money for millennials. For us, it’s not just about how much money we give, but it is also about donating our time. It is just as valuable — maybe even more valuable — for us to give of our time than to hand out a monetary donation. We get more fulfillment out of personally being involved in the impact rather than just handing over some cash.
If we can wear a pair of shoes or eyeglasses by a brand known to give back to charity for every purchase, that’s an active way for millennials to support a good cause. Similarly, if we can attach a charitable offering to an everyday activity, such as shopping on Amazon, that’s a no-brainer for us.
The millennial generation is now the largest living generation, surpassing the baby boomers this past year, so it’s important for charitable causes around the world to start engaging us now. Lucky for them, we are eager to help out — it’s just a matter of getting creative with how we can give back.
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In the age of the selfie and the selfie-stick, millennials sometimes get a bad rap for being self-involved.But don’t say that to millennials who are interested in making a positive impact.
“I think my generation is just as interested as previous generations, but maybe we look at the way we spend our time differently and are more interested in having meaningful experiences vs. accumulating a lot of stuff,” said Lighthouse Point resident Maggie Gunther, 36, who considers herself “an old millennial’’ for being born in 1981. “We travel and we give our time to the greater good instead of owning McMansions full of things that won’t bring us happiness.”
Studies have shown that millennials — generally defined as those born between 1980 to 2000 — are purpose-driven, wanting to give their money and time to make a difference. They may just find “new and unique ways of doing so,” according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study on millennials. The study found that this generation may volunteer in ways not always recognized as typical volunteer initiatives, because they may do it in groups with friends, relatives, through clubs, the work force, and online by gathering support for causes using social media.
A 2015 Millennial Impact Report, from the Case Foundation and research company Achieve, found that 70 percent of millennial employees volunteered at least one hour in 2014, while 37 percent volunteered up to 10 hours.
Gunther is active with myriad organizations, including the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' Ghost Light Society, a young professionals/donors group, and the Historic Stranahan House Museum. Her volunteer duties have run the gamut from serving breakfast at the Broward Partnership to advocating for stronger drunken-driving laws in Tallahassee.
She also participates in events such as Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash Fort Lauderdale 5K. For the annual MADD walk, she’s typically out at 4 a.m. on the field to help set up for the event.
Why does she volunteer so much?
“It’s very important to me, and it’s part of my DNA, going back to being named ‘most involved’ in high school,” said Gunther, who works full time as director of communications and programs for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.
For her volunteer work, Gunther was named one of “40 under 40” business leaders in Broward County last year by the South Florida Business Journal.
“I just can’t help but want to be involved, sometimes to the point of overcommitting. Volunteer leadership and service is a way to make your community a better place to live,” she said. “It has also been the way I’ve made my best friends. There’s something about the relationships you form with people when you’re working together on something you’re passionate about. It lasts a lifetime.”
Gunther says she has also used charitable efforts to get through difficult times. In 2010, she lost her sister to cancer. In her honor, Gunther established the Michelle Catania Children's Theater Program at her community theater in New Jersey.
Lauren Fyke, 33, is also involved with the Ghost Light Society, serving as co-chairwoman of its steering committee and helping plan its annual fundraiser soiree, which is set for Nov. 4 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The volunteer group’s mission is to inspire a new generation of patrons by supporting and promoting the performing arts.
The Pompano Beach resident joined the group in 2014 because of her childhood love of theater.
“When I heard about this group … I definitely wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
She was already a season ticket holder for the Broadway performances at the Broward Center, and she “I wanted an outlet to get more involved.”
Fyke believes fellow millennials also can help their careers by volunteering, because “it allows them to cultivate skills and make connections that perhaps they can’t make in their everyday lives.”
“I have gotten a lot of leadership training and experience through my volunteer work that I can use in my career,” said Fyke, a public relations representative for JM Family Enterprises Inc.
What’s more, millennials tend to prefer working for employers that have a give-back-to-the community spirit. A study released earlier this year by Deloitte, a consulting and financial advisory group, found that 76 percent of millennials see business as a means for positive social change.
Fyke said “the community-minded culture for which JM Family is so well-known was definitely a huge part of its appeal when I was applying for a job there.”
Katie Torres, 32, has been volunteering since high school.
“That’s when I knew that was something I wanted to do in my life,” says Torres, of Delray Beach, who volunteers about five to 10 hours a month.
Since moving to South Florida from her native Wisconsin six years ago, she has volunteered at Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale’s Burger Battle event, and for Leadership Broward Inc., a nonprofit leadership training group, as a co-chairwoman for its Fort Lauderdale Turkey Trot fundraiser on Thanksgiving Day.
“I know nonprofits are short on staff and resources and funds. Anything I can do to help make that a little easier, or help make it a little more successful is rewarding for me, too,” she said.
Her volunteer work led Torres to a job at Covenant House Florida, a Fort Lauderdale nonprofit that helps homeless children and youth. Although she no longer works there, she has continued volunteering as part of the Young Professionals for Covenant House, helping with fundraisers and raising awareness about the nonprofit.
She has also participated in Covenant House’s annual “Sleep Out” event to show solidarity with homeless youth.
“We sleep on the street for one night and meet the kids from Covenant House,” said Torres, who works as a licensed agent at Cato Insurance Group, which has offices in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs.
Jim Gress, executive director of Covenant House Florida, said he appreciates the work that millennial volunteers like Torres perform at the nonprofit.
“They are very important for our work. Part of the reason is that they are not terribly far away from the age of the clients that we work with,” Gress said. “They are at the beginning of their careers and they can sometimes provide a realistic and relatable story to the young people that we have about where they are in life, how they go to where they are, and what their career ambitions and goals are … There is a commonality there.”
Added Torres: “I do think that sometimes we do get a bad rap. But I would venture to say that I think it’s quite the contrary … I definitely see people have a big heart, and they are invested in our community and want to make changes and want to effect change for the better.”
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Some say Millennials epitomize self-centered behavior among the generational ranks. We’re supposedly a social group far more focused on curating the perfect selfie than saving the world. But we know the truth. Despite our reputation, scientists say we are wired for altruism. And beyond our brains, recent anecdotal evidence in the wake of several natural disasters further shows that we care more about each other than others believe. While we’re often chastised for our incidents of narcissism, we have actually begun to lead philanthropy toward a brighter future.
Until now, non-profits have struggled to grow because donors insist such organizations only spend donated dollars on things that directly support the cause. That means non-profits can’t spend money to hire the best talent or create large-scale promotional campaigns. Thankfully, Millennials have begun to circumvent this paradox as crowdfunding and social media empower us to promote on behalf of many causes. And non-profits are taking notice. Deevee Kashi, CEO of on-demand volunteering app DEED, explains, “Non-profits know they must evolve to connect with a younger generation used to more culturally relevant and technology-based modes of engagement.” Of DEED’s users, 80% fall between the ages of 18 and 34.
I spoke with Kashi to better understand what makes Millennials tick when it comes to philanthropic endeavors. As a financial advisor, I’ve recognized that while Millennials and even younger generations will likely continue to influence charitable giving on a global scale, many of us remain unsatisfied with our efforts. No matter the amount of money donated, a scattershot method of philanthropy can leave donors feeling financially insecure and disconnected from a cause. However, a systematized, simplified and social charitable plan can ensure we’re able to continue to give and better connect with the causes that matter most.
Systematized
Many of us struggle when trying to decide when, how, and what to give. Millennials are inclined to respond to gripping stories and authenticity, which means we react in force for the victims of singular events like Hurricane Harvey. This has an obvious benefit for such tragedies, but ongoing social problems like poverty, homelessness and food and water scarcity don’t always garner consistent attention.
A charitable plan incorporates a specific schedule for when to give throughout the year. That doesn’t mean donors shouldn’t make one-off donations, but a framework for repeated giving helps donors build stronger, longer-term bonds with recipients that need consistent help.
Scheduling also allows donors to identify how gifts fit into a budget. We tend to donate without understanding how each outflow affects our bottom line. In incorporating our giving into a well-monitored budget, we can ensure our own financial well-being, which in turn allows us to continue giving or even to give more than we thought possible.
Simplified
As a Millennial, I’ve found that we typically seek to avoid complexity that impedes what we’re trying to accomplish. A philanthropy plan should focus on simplicity. As a starting point, select a few organizations to which you’d like to donate your time and money on a more regular basis. Find organizations with important causes that also seek to engage younger donors through innovative approaches.
Beyond the selection process, continue to leverage technology. Apps like DEED allow you to more easily incorporate philanthropy into daily life. Kashi says, “We wanted to make volunteering accessible and eliminate the barriers. The app lets you find opportunities that fit within your schedule and near where is convenient to you.”
Both charitable and overall financial planning help people deconstruct and better contend with complex issues. A plan can create efficiencies with our time and money, meaning we can spend more time and money doing the things we find important and that lead to lasting happiness. Simplicity leads donors and volunteers toward stronger satisfaction in philanthropic endeavors and everyday life.
Social
A charitable plan can incorporate a more hands-on approach beyond the dollars and cents. By adding intimate volunteering experiences with peers to an overall plan, donors can connect with a cause at the ground level. Kashi explains, “We found that when people physically engage and visualize the impact they have on their local community, they become long-term volunteers and donors.”
While donors spread the word online, volunteers can create both online and in-person communities, leading to higher satisfaction in giving and greater visibility for the cause. The DEED app operates a bit like a blend of Yelp and Instagram in which you can share experiences within the DEED community. Kashi says, “You’re able to see what’s happening at these events and you can invite friends to join you.” Kashi added that the top 10 most influential users on the app have generated 15 million impressions on social media. That’s a lot of eyeballs on non-profits that would otherwise fail with internal marketing efforts.
As tragedy continues to strike and we look to make a difference for those in need, consider setting aside time to think through a longer-term strategy. Ultimately, a charitable plan can allow us to make giving a part of our lives rather than a guilt-ridden afterthought. Systematized, simple and social charitable planning among Millennials will satisfy our desire to help and will continue to define the future of philanthropy.
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They Expect Employer Benefits That Fit Match Their Values
Millennials made headlines when they were moving from college into the workplace and disrupting the status quo. It’s been quite a few years since we saw traditional workplace norms crumble. Since that time, millennials have moved from being primarily broke college grads living in their parent’s basement to getting married and having children.
With this change in their life arrangement comes an adjustment to their desires from an employer. Those that have moved into parenthood may still struggling to pay their student loan debt, while simultaneously thinking about how they will pay for their child’s education later in life.
A recent Capital Group survey found that one in three millennials say a 529 or college savings plan is a benefit they want employers to offer. Even more want tuition reimbursement. One in three millennials say not having enough money to pay for their children’s education keeps them up at night.
Loyalty Is More Valuable Than They Let On To
At some point, millennials developed a reputation for job hopping. Whether they are actually job hopping more than previous generations is up for debate, as Capital Group’s survey found that 30% of millennials have held three jobs or more over the past five years.
On the flip side, the same study found that 67% of millennials say being loyal to their employer is important to them, which is on par with previous generations. Along with loyalty to their employer, they don't want to be viewed as a number and expect their employers to be loyal to them in return.
“From the survey findings, it can be deduced that if employers can match millennials’ hunger for benefits and personal development that align with their values, employers may benefit from millennials’ loyalty,” said Heather Lord, Head of Strategy & Innovation at Capital Group, an investment company.
They Want Retirement Investment Options
“Millennials can see the real-life impact investing can have,” said Lord. “Only 10% of millennials say they would stay in the same career and current lifestyle if they knew they would have enough money to retire.”
The desire to have retirement options from their employer is a basic desire of workers of all generations. Millennials, in particular, lived through the recession of 2007-2008, so they may be even more sensitive to making sure they are planning ahead and saving for retirement.
“While it can be challenging to save for retirement right out of college, putting off contributing and investing for retirement is a costly mistake,” continued Lord. “Young investors should aim to save whatever their employer will match, plus an additional portion of their compensation each year they work.”
Ability To Prioritize Family
As mentioned above, millennials are starting families and have had to adjust priorities and schedules to account for their new family members. In the same way, millennials are beginning to enter the age range where their parents are starting to need help.
“It was also interesting to see that millennials see investing success as a way to care for family,” said Lord. A quarter of millennials say more investing success would help them a great deal to take time off to care for aging or ill family members, which was higher than for boomers.”
Social Impact Is Key
In study after study, millennials reinforce their “Giving Generation” nickname. Benefits such as volunteer time off and charitable gift matching have increased in popularity with employers of millennials.
Capital Group’s study found that 82% of millennials say it’s important for companies to promote the health and wellness of consumers and employees in their investment portfolio, which is higher than for boomers. Companies must make sure that investment options in their retirement programs have socially responsible options. The difference between millennials and previous generations deepens when considering minority groups and their well-being.
Some of the benefits millennials expect from their employer are common of other generations, such as a focus on retirement investing and loyalty to their company. Areas that employers should refine their focus on as it relates to millennial employees are their family friendliness, social impact and benefits that match employee values.
Many companies, small and large, are well on their way to adjusting their policies to account for employees that have high expectations from a job. In today’s age of instant information availability, millennials can quickly compare jobs, companies, and benefits to make decisions about what is best for them and their family.
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The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that the percentage of millennials who are planning to leave their job within 2 years is 38%, down from 44% in the 2016 survey. However, at least 1 out of every 3 millennials is actively planning to leave, and many millennials are passive seekers. So how do we know when it is time to leave a current job and jump into a new position?
Are layoffs an automatic signal to jump ship?
Layoffs are undoubtedly a stressful time for both the employees who depart the company and those left behind. People who remain after a round of layoffs often use the layoff as a motivating factor to focus their efforts on finding a new job. However, that might not be the best call.
"Leaving your job after a layoff, might not be the best move, but it's definitely a good time to inquire about your future in the company,” notes HR Consultant Laurie Luh. “Employees have the right to know where they stand. A layoff is the perfect opportunity to set a meeting with management, ask the hard questions and set expectations. Layoffs are also a great motivator to update your LinkedIn profile and start networking, which should always be part of your career life."
Those who voluntarily leave soon after a layoff generally end up with less negotiating power. Hiring managers know when layoffs in various companies occur and they use this knowledge to reduce compensation packages or titles because they know the candidate is highly motivated to leave their current job.
Although your workload and responsibilities will likely increase after a layoff, there is a silver lining: you can use this to your advantage to learn and grow more quickly than you would if you made a lateral move to another company. Taking on the additional responsibility - and succeeding - can position you well for a promotion once the company turns around.
However, this line of thought will only get you so far. If you are aware of your the long term trajectory of your company, then you can safely jump from a sinking ship before you are the last remaining survivor. Leaving on your own terms, before you have to, can prevent you from competing for the same jobs as your friends and former colleagues if the layoff rounds continue.
“It’s important to consider the environment that will exist in the aftermath of the reduction in force,” said Ben Sieke, Manager, Learning Programs at Guitar Center and President, Association for Talent Development, Los Angeles Chapter. “Even if you are certain that your job is safe, the departure of key leaders, partners, or colleagues may mean that the workload, work conditions and even the nature of your work can change dramatically following a layoff. While this change can be positive, it can just as often result in a work situation that is less favorable for those that remain.”
Progression opportunities are better elsewhere
A passive seeker is always open to hearing about an opportunity. The best time to leave a job is when a new opportunity presents itself that helps you make the next leap forward in your long term career goals. The opportunity could mean a broader scope of work a higher level position, or an area that you do not have experience in but you are passionate about learning. For instance a lot of people whose industries or jobs are becoming increasingly automated are learning new skills or transitioning into industries where jobs are less likely to be replaced by AI. No matter the industry, it is a good idea to learn new skills to keep you relevant and competitive in your field. Many companies will cover the cost of employee development and continued learning.
Culture changes
A company’s culture is a living and breathing organism. As companies scale and pivot, the atmosphere will change as well. One sign that you may want to look elsewhere is if the culture that you loved when you began working there no longer resonates with you. For instance, if you are passionate about working in a small, intimate environment where everyone knows each other and each other’s kids, and suddenly you notice one day that you know almost none of your large number of coworkers, then perhaps you would be comfortable with a smaller company. Other factors that chage company culture include a change in leadership or CEO. This might only create a short term issue, so give things a chance so long as the culture is still positive.
Generally, however, there are many cultures in a company. So if the overarching culture does not seem to fit your style, the culture in your microcosm that you work within could be exactly what you want. The most important consideration is whether you have a good environment for your daily work life.
You have learned everything you can from your current company
When you have attained the highest level of leadership, you have made the most meaningful impact that you can in the company, and you have reached the highest level of skill development, you are ready to move on for the right reasons. My philosophy is that you should always be running to something, not away from something. Leave an opportunity when you are excelling in your job and on an upward trajectory to the next level. This is important because when you actively look for your next job, you want to put your best foot forward and enter an interview process because the opportunity is the right fit for you. Although running from a bad situation is sometimes necessary, your confidence and attitude can take a palpable hit. The hiring manager can sense your urgency, and you lose your negotiating power. When you feel that you are in charge of your own destiny, and you interview for a position because it is a dream job, you have the power to create your path to success.
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One of the questions millennials often ask recruiters is how to find their dream job, even for their first job out of college. But is that the right approach? Most millennials’ first job will not be their dream. And in an era where today’s job may be obsolete tomorrow, that is a good thing. It is much more valuable to think strategically about a long term career than to focus on one specific job. The key is to develop a foundation of knowledge, wisdom, and a network of professional contacts to make a successful hop to the next lily pad.
Imperfect opportunity knocks
One of the biggest career mistakes people make is waiting too long to find the perfect opportunity. The best way to figure out if a specific job or industry is really ideal is to actually do the job in that industry. That will also provide an insider perspective of a specific company culture and management style. This is similar to selecting courses in college. Determining which course to take depends more on the professor than the description in the syllabus. Likewise, a job depends much more on internal factors like boss management style and actual day to day work than on an external facing job description (which is really an optimistic advertisement). This industry insider knowledge can also lead to discovering new and better suited opportunities.
“I view a first job as a test to discover what you want to do and which aspects of the job you enjoy. It is also an opportunity to learn about an industry and gain transferable experience so you have the flexibility to define your future,” notes Min Zhang, CEO and cofounder of Totum, a suitable risk profiling tool for financial advisors. “My first job was a sell side equity research analyst on Wall Street. Five years later, I switched into fintech when the industry was just starting, and I confirmed that my true passion involved building quantitative algorithms in fintech.” Technology can rapidly transform a job or an industry, and what might seem like your dream job at first may become less important in a changing industry. Company size, structure and environment are important too. It is worth trying out a couple of different company sizes early on (small, mid size, large global company, or a startup) to see which type of environment is preferable.
Grunt work can be good work
Another reason early career millennials often approach a recruiter is to find a new position with a title promotion after six months in their current job. The motivation to make a large impact is great, and if someone is not ready for a promotion after six months they may be ready in a year. In the meantime, it is important to tackle projects and tasks that will help bridge the skill and experience gap between the current job and the desired next step in the ladder. Some of that involves a lot of grunt work.
“I started out as an associate at a law firm and worked under a critical and difficult to please boss,” said Kelly Shapiro, General Counsel at fashion technology company Thesis Couture. “My task list was not glamorous, but I learned self discipline and skills I still draw from today. I also earned the respect of that boss who is now a great reference.”
Grunt work may cause people to question whether they are putting an expensive college degree to good use, but learning how to prioritize grunt work can help people learn to manage their time in the future. However, it is important to be honest with a new hire about the level of grunt work their new job requires. Otherwise, a perceived bait and switch job description can easily create a disengaged millennial. Employee engagement starts with leadership, and a good leader can articulate what type of work is necessary, how much of it is grunt work and how those tasks will help meet company objectives and contribute to the employee’s professional development.
Who you know is important; how you know them matters more
One of the best ways to be introduced to future career opportunities is through a close current or former coworker. That is why it is important to create authentic professional relationships built on reputation and shared experience. Paying dues, trying a job in a specific industry and building skills through grunt work lay the foundation for a strong referral network in the future.
We tend to be motivated to ascend the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, but sometimes the reputations we build, the connections we make and the lessons we learn on the lower rungs help us skip a couple of steps later on in our careers. Thinking strategically about long term career development is much more useful than a narrow focus on a specific job.
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No other generation in history has the opportunities before them that millennials now enjoy — and more than a few of them are powered by technology. Data, to be more precise.
Millennials digest a considerable amount of data each day. What they do with it, how they bring data awareness to the workplace and how they influence the professional and material worlds are all very exciting topics of discussion and speculation.
Millennials Willingly Share Data About Themselves
The first point to make is that millennials are effectively the first generation to grow up with nearly unlimited access to information. Data is a two-way street — as savvy as millennials are with using data, they’re first and foremost providers of data in a way that previous generations were not.
Because millennials grew up online, they're accustomed to providing private details to websites and companies to use certain services. Even if they don’t consciously think about it, most millennials know the things they post on Facebook could eventually be used for marketing purposes. Some users even get asked to take surveys to aid Facebook in displaying advertisements that are as relevant as possible.
Experts say marketing in highly personalized ways could be particularly effective for the millennial generation — especially since the people who are part of it don’t think twice before completing forms or giving consent related to their data. Millennials are also more likely give away information to gain access to a website or join a rewards club.
Nonprofit professionals recommend reaching out to millennials on Twitter because they love following live events through the platform and see it as an opportunity for meaningful connections. As millennials weigh in with feedback about political happenings or television show premieres, they’re broadcasting things about themselves in real-time by revealing how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking.
This is the data two-way street we mentioned. Millennials are comfortable saying so much about themselves online because they know they’re getting something in return: Information about other folks.
Websites like Reddit, Facebook and YouTube aren’t just treasure troves of information about millennials as consumers — they’re how millennials as citizens get information and compare it to other people’s experiences, either elsewhere in the country or on another continent entirely. Unconsciously or not, this exchange of data powers discourse and helps millennials become more involved and invested in what’s going on in the world.
Millennials Intuitively Know How To Use Data In New Ways
It’s true — millennials are consumers of data in a big way. They use data to make more informed purchases, for example. When polled, 57% of millennials indicated they comparison-shop when making even in-store purchases. This is a data-driven way to shop and it’s helping steal back market share from big-box and big-name companies. As a result, brand loyalty appears to inform millennial purchases to a lesser degree than with previous generations.
However, just as millennials know how to use data to make their own lives easier, this symbiotic relationship with data is making them more valuable as employees, too. Data is one of the most valuable commodities out there right now, but figuring out how to monetize all that data and turn it into opportunity is still a fairly new field to be in. Millennials are helping fill that void and turn all that data into something meaningful.
Geoff Ives, President of Map Business Online, has recognized this trend in his own work: “Because they’re born using technology. Devices, social media, TV and movies — it all drives an innate understanding of how to apply data. There’s no fear of it, like there is with older generations.
“Millennials bring a whole new technical capability to today’s businesses, markets and operational arenas. So from a data perspective, they quickly understand possibilities us old folks never even considered.”
Millennials Still Appreciate The Analog World
Lest we come away with an impression of millennials as data-hungry cyborgs, the fact is that millennials inherited a world where the digital and the analog appeared to be at war with one another — but now we see them seemingly working in harmony.
Information from the Pew Research Center suggests that millennials are the most likely adult demographic to use public libraries. Since the research focused on public libraries instead of those located on college campuses, it cannot be argued that millennials are merely going to the library because their professors expect them to. It’s true that libraries increasingly lean on digital assets, but for all kinds of personal and vocational research, you just can’t beat libraries for convenience or atmosphere.
Under their watch, we’ve also seen sales of physical books rise — a trend that even some of the most optimistic forecasters believed might be behind us.
What’s the point of all this? The point is that the most data-savvy, data-hungry and data-empowered generation ever is set to disrupt the global economy in a big way. By 2025, the millennial share of the workforce will rise from the 33% of today to 75%. Imagine that many savvy professionals using data to better understand the world and provide more of what it wants and needs. What couldn’t we accomplish with data as that kind of far-reaching communication medium?
From Google searches to Netflix documentaries, millennials are exposed to a wide range of types of data daily. What will they go on to do with it? That’s the exciting part of the story — and most of it isn’t written yet.
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