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Millennials are the unlikely allies of corporate-community partnerships

Millennials. Latte sipping, avocado munchers or resilient social justice warriors? People born between 1977 and 1994 have been the classic tabloid villains, portrayed as selfish and a general drain on society. "

But millennials are a much-maligned group and research shows they could be unlikely allies for anyone building corporate- community partnerships. How so?

A survey of 8,000 millennials across 17 countries yielded some surprising insights:

  • 82% want businesses to make a positive social impact
  • 79% will recommend a company based on their social involvement
  • 70% are more loyal to brands they believe benefit society.

It’s not just school children who are advocating for meaningful social change on important issues. It turns out that millennials are leading the way. So, what makes them allies for charities aiming to develop meaningful corporate partnerships? Let’s look at what research has uncovered about the millennial generation.

Millennials are action oriented.  With libraries of information at their fingertips, they think the time for talking is over- it’s time for action. More importantly, they are focused on impact and meaningful change in society. They’re savvy enough to know the difference between PR and authentic impact, so they’re more likely to place their trust in a charity rather than business or government. It’s also a generation that expects to be part of the solution to society’s big issues and wants to have a voice. It’s more about we rather than you- which is a perfect fit for collaborative, social impact partnerships.

These insights are nuggets of gold for anyone working on corporate- community partnerships. If you’re aiming to solve the problems of business rather than sell to them, you can help them adapt their businesses to a future that is dominated by the millennial generation.

CHANGING DEMANDS OF EMPLOYEES

By 2025 millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce. They want to work for organisations that nurture their skills and want to see them making a positive contribution to society, not just profit. A strategically aligned partnership with a charity or community organisation creates a significant impact on the societal issues that millennials care about. The next generation of employees are going to be demanding action from businesses – and your charity could be well placed to be the solution.

CHANGING DEMANDS OF CONSUMERS

Three quarters of millennials say they influence the purchasing decisions of other generations. That could include their parents, given that millennials are living longer in the family home. It also applies to the tech savvy younger generation who are absorbing the information, advocacy and leadership of millennials across multiple platforms. Corporates are having to adapt rapidly to the changing demands of their new consumer base, especially in a more competitive, post COVID landscape. Partnerships with the right charities can be a vehicle for authentic engagement with a consumer audience of millennials and beyond.

A FOCUS ON SOCIAL PURPOSE

Four out of five millennials want business to get involved in addressing social issues and believe businesses can and should make a greater social impact. I saw recently a large corporate tweet their support for Black Lives Matter. The response from a millennial was “thanks- but now send back a picture of your board and leadership team. We need action not words”. This is an action-oriented generation and a meaningful corporate-charity partnership will demonstrate real commitment to the big social issues that interest millennials. Millennials need not want corporates to get involved in the broader issues. Charities can offer corporates a pathway to do that through partnerships that create emotional engagement and sustainable outcomes.

ACCESS TO A HARD TO REACH AUDIENCE

Is your charity building allies among millennials? Or is your supporter base stuck in the 50+ age bracket? Millennials are a hard to reach audience as they consume information from many different sources, across multiple platforms. If your charity can build a fan base (not just a donor database) among millennials, you will be extremely valuable to corporate partners. You will bring them the opportunity for authentic engagement with a difficult audience that are critical to their future growth.

So, the next time you see a younger person in a café taking a picture of their breakfast, don’t roll your eyes. Look at them as an ally in social purpose – for they will be the ones demanding the impactful corporate – community partnerships that you can offer. As allies you can achieve the social change that will shape the next generation.

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