NHPF-Authored Articles & Industry Reports

Entrepreneur, August 6, 2018 How We Helped Our Millennials Fall in Love With Philanthropy by Richard F. Burns, President, CEO & Trustee, NHPF

A transparent workplace, hands-on opportunities and cutting-edge tech will keep your millennials engaged.

Here, then, are some effective ways we’ve found that any not-for- profit can use to guide millennial staffers to a satisfying long-term career helping others. (These tips may be applicable to for-profits, as well.) Make your workplace as transparent as possible. As many who study the millennial cohort agree, these young people thrive on transparency. This translates to communicating to young staffers about how our organization works, in terms of: Who are the target donors? How does the organization raise money? And, How is the money spent? As well as, what is expected of them, what salaries look like across the organization and what is an honest appraisal of their promotional opportunities and time tables. “Anything less than this level of honesty will turn off prospective Gen X candidates,” Dan Enson told me by email. He’s research director at Toluna, a leading digital marketing research and technology business. Provide hands-on opportunities. It’s satisfying be part of a successful team effort in your office, but nothing builds camaraderie and loyalty like being part of a project onsite. For example, employees of our foundation take part in events like this installation of solar panels on an affordable housing property in Washington, DC. That event and others bring to life the work that our organization does and make it more meaningful to those who work there. Bill Bedrossian is CEO of Covenant House of California, a non-profit youth homeless shelter that provides sanctuary and support for homeless and trafficked youth. Bedrossian employs about 100 millennial staffers and told me he sees the importance of personally connecting his team with those they serve. “Our millennial staff have been catalysts for creating new opportunities for connectedness, which has increased the youths’ [we serve] level of engagement and therefore success,” Bedrossian said. “Everything from marching in Pride parades alongside youth, monthly youth/staff basketball games, a staff-youth blues band, partnering with youth in service projects . . . all [these activities] have really had an impact on the culture for both youth and staff alike,” Bedrossian added. Recognize that you can never have too much data. As members of the generation that brought us the listicle and the hot job title “data scientist,” millennials love research and stats.

Within two years: That’s when 43 percent of millennials envision leaving their jobs, while only 28 percent plan to stay beyond five years, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018. From our corner of the not-for-profit world (affordable housing), however, I’m happy to say that we are experiencing more positive averages than those. Specifically, as of this year, we’ve had nearly 100 percent retention of what we call our Next Generation Leaders; these individuals average three years at our organization, and just as many have worked for us for six years or more. Their involvement has contributed to a healthy bottom line as we continue to create and preserve affordable housing for those in need. How are we making millennials fall in love with not-for-profit work and convincing them to stay at NHPF? In 2016 we took a look around and realized two important trends in our industry: Trend one: Baby boomers are sticking around longer. (This impression is reinforced by data found in a recent survey, noting that 73 percent of working boomers said in surveys that they expected to delay retirement.) And, trend two: Bright young talent has proved to be a boon to the affordable housing industry. Accordingly, we have devoted ourselves to carving out a strategy to attract and keep this talent segment while also maintaining our valuable “seasoned” senior workforce. How did we do this? First we took a long, hard look at our organization and developed a blueprint for making our environment amenable to both sets of employees. We worked to create a more inclusive workplace and to encourage cross- generation teams and mentoring. Beyond this work, we codified some of the most successful steps that other organizations can use to develop and retain Gen X-ers and upcoming Gen Y-ers, as well. Work in not-for-profits is a perfect match to the interests of all three generations, according to this IBM Career Goals study identifying “Save the world” as the number 2 workplace desire across all three generations. Richard F. Burns


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