What are Millennials good for? How can we (you) use them (me)? Christina Smith from YourMembership.com, Inc. recently posted on the Nonprofit Technology Network’s blog to look into that question. It’s called “Tapping into the Strengths of a Generation – The Millennials“, and it’s a good place to start. What follows are my comments on the post, with a few tiny changes (items in bold are Christina’s quick descriptions):
I love starting comments with “As a Millennial…”
As a Millennial, I feel strange being both involved with the recruitment/development of my own kind and being one of myself. Whew.
Christina, you are right about us, but I’ll add a few additions/clarifications.
1. They are technology-savvy. Tech-savvy can mean a lot of things. Many of us are “on” Facebook for a lot of minutes each day, but there is a substantial gap between “tech-savvy” and “tech-involved”, i.e. we play around a lot, but might not have a good idea of how to utilize these tools (that to us are commonplace) to do good.
2. They need to feel appreciated. Appreciation is nice, but it can take many forms. Simply being told that we’re doing a good job can be super important. Then again, many of us grew up under circumstances where we weren’t always awarded the participation prize. Millennials (the striving kind) are hard on themselves because they understand the weight of potential that is put upon them by others and, of course, their own goals.
Then again, we are easily distracted. Hey, a bird!
Really – 6 hours/day on the internet does not equal social media or web tool mastery. We still spend a lot of time screwing around and doing what could occasionally be described as “personal development reading” and the like. So regarding the last point, watch the praise. Too much can make us feel like we’re pulling a lot of weight with each status update, which might not necessarily be the case.
4. They want to be a part of something big. Millennials really do want to be a part of something big. We’ve come of age in an era of movements and we see ourselves as contributing members of many different, progressive initiatives. Growing up “globalized” makes it easier for us to see these movements as truly international and participatory.
5. They don’t believe in doing things because they’ve always been done that way. When we look around, the people leading us in these programs are usually from a different generation. For that reason, it’s really easy for us to want to do things in a “new” way, digitally or otherwise. But in many cases, what we need is the guidance of older generations in building coalitions and making face-to-face connection possible. Left to our own devices, who knows? We Millennials are exceptionally motivated; give us a target and we’ll run at breakneck speed towards it, sometimes breaking our necks.
As Christina notes, there are 60 million Millennials out there. We are, for lack of a better word, important. <insert winking smiley face here> A common criticism of our generation is that we are self-absorbed. In some ways this is true. As constituent parts of the planet Earth, we are concerned that we’re growing up in a world that is, in some ways, heading downwards. If you want to appeal to us: Make it sexy, make it quick, make it sharable, and most of all, make it matter. Give us a call to action.