NHPF-Authored Articles & Industry Reports

Entrepreneur, August 6, 2018 How We Helped Our Millennials Fall in Love With Philanthropy (continued)

“Hand-writing postcards or letters gives the message a memorable touch that will connect you to your audience,” Fritz wrote on her blog. Think of handwritten notes as a “real world” outlet for a generation that thrives on digital self-expression. Get out of your comfort zone. Covenant House’s Bedrossian recognizes and embraces millennial values and world views—even, he says, when they are “contradictory to generational agency practices and policies.” Organization leadership has benefited greatly from inviting new perspectives in to almost everything Bedrossian’s organization does. The results, he says, have been a “ton of change and innovation—and a lot of discomfort for many of us!—but [those results have] also enabled us to serve more youth, increase our sustainability and improve the attractiveness of our agency culture.” Reward nonprofit staffers in meaningful (not always monetary) ways. In the same way that the millennial cohort appreciates transparency in the workplace, these young people also appreciate authenticity in an organization. Leadership can demonstrate this by devising ways to reward beyond the financial option. Useful here are public acknowledgment of jobs well done and promotions even when the latter are unaccompanied by salary bumps. Consider other perks like week-ending lunches and parties, work-from-home opportunities and those beloved “summer Fridays.” A final piece of advice on encouraging millennials to find a fit in philanthropic work: Those of us who stay in our offices and delegate through email or mulitiple staff levels miss the opportunity to collaborate, teach and learn from the next generation. Yet, while it may seem easier to lead from a more removed position, that will never be as rewarding—or beneficial to the bottom line—as choosing to spend time connecting with staffers one-to-one.

Not-for-profits thrive on such data as well; that’s why it behooves organizations to use their research and analysis to help educate and inspire their young workforce members. Give as much personal, individualized attention as possible. Remember, millennials are the folks who “got the trophy for showing up.” And, therefore, according to an email I received from Kait Peters, chief strategy and integration Officer at the People Concern, a social service agency with many young employees: “The millennial generation thrives on personal attention opportunities to demonstrate their value individually and as part of the team.” “It has been my experience,” she continued, “that younger staff may not have as many opportunities to voice their ideas in traditional work environments because they aren’t at senior leadership tables as much as their colleagues in other generations. So we create more opportunities for company contributions from all levels of the organization.” Demonstrate tech-savviness. Millennials needs to feel they have access to the latest and greatest tech available—meaning cutting-edge databases and other tools they can use in their jobs. In addition to supplying hardware and software, you might encourage team members to sign up for skill-enhancing industry webinars and other online learning tools. It’s also important to encourage positive social media sharing— meaning the posting of articles relevant to the organization, the use of LinkedIn, tweets about important topics and the creation of website content. Also crucial: a smart organization social media policy. Encourage appreciation of “old-school” tactics, as well. While your staff is making the most of MailChimp marketing and donor texting options, never let them lose sight of the benefits of a well-handled phone call or a thank-you note. Joanne Fritz, who blogs about philanthropy at The Balance, extols the virtues of a handwritten note in an age when our inboxes have become “battlefields, crowded with junk.


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