Include Millennials

Seventh of the series: 
8 Strategies for Empowering your Nonprofit Board

The Millennial Generation is currently the largest generation in the workforce. By 2020, as the baby boomer generation declines, millennials are expected to become the largest living generation. Millennials are typically defined as those born between 1981 and 1999 and currently are 19 to 37 years old.

Recent Donor Bliss Consulting research on millennials included conversations and interviews with volunteers, leaders, fundraisers, board members, alumni relations experts and millennials themselves, both inside and outside of the nonprofit arena.

Why is this issue important and of growing importance in philanthropy?

General descriptions of millennials say they tend to be impatient to the point that they often quit their jobs before they get up to speed. Social media makes millennials exceptionally connected and at the same time it stunts their ability to form deep lasting relationships with others. They are tech savvy (for the younger millennials phones have always been smart) and a large majority is hopelessly addicted to social media.

Because of its size and potential, the subject of engaging, motivating, hiring, managing and retaining this generation is important. Millennials want to love the work they do, to love those they work with and want to see the impact of their efforts – daily. Because millennials have a well-developed social conscience, they are great volunteers who care deeply about mission and cause. Their involvement is especially significant for nonprofits.

Why nonprofit boards should consider adding millennials to the board:

  1. Millennials possess energy and enthusiasm and couple it with a desire to volunteer and engage others as a way to express their values. 
  2. In general, millennials do not respect seniority and are not afraid to challenge the status quo (this can be a good thing for the right cause).
  3. As a group, they are innovative, resourceful and collaborative. Working with a diverse group has always been a part of their experience.
  4. Even more than previous generations, millennials want to see the impact of the organization’s efforts as well as the impact of their own efforts.
  5. Although millennials do not have the capacity to make major gifts at this time, at some point they will pay off their higher education loans and own their houses and become financial resources for the causes with which they have volunteered.
  6. Some millennials, already active in the community and as volunteers, ask why boards have not asked them to join. They want to be a bigger part of the organization.

A practical step to including millennials is to treat them like any other board member, especially when joining the board. See also

We help organizations like yours achieve high performing boards – contact us to find out how your organization can move to the next level of board member involvement. Be sure to order a copy of our white paper Millennials and Nonprofit Boards.