© 2019 GRC Group (Global Research & Consulting)

What Millennials Mean for Traditional Public Benefit Institutions


With millennials composing 40% of the working aged population today, they play a vital role in the long-term growth and success of public benefit institutions. As more and more causes strive to capture the attention of millennials, traditional institutions must adapt their targeting efforts to appeal to millennials while maintaining relationships with their older supporters. Failing to invest in millennials early on could mean a significant reduction in future revenue streams as older supporters fade away. So what makes millennials so different?

Traditional institutions must adapt their targeting efforts to appeal to millennials while maintaining relationships with their older supporters

1. Attitudes

Generally recognized as those born between 1980 and 2000, this generation is best described as VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous – A generation that grew up in the dot com bubble, housing crisis, and post-9/11 world. In rebuilding their brave new world, millennials have found a strong ambitious desire to be actively engaged in causes, integrating themselves in the change making processes.

VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous

In the spirit of this, millennials have turned their backs on the ancient institutions of yesterday and ally themselves closely with causes (hunger, water, immigration, etc.) rather than organizations and institutions. They see the impact as a collective, independent of firms or individuals. For institutions, brand capital is not enough. To engage Millennials, organizations will need to be transparent and reflect their active engagement in causes with tangible evidence of their impact.


2. Engagement

Curiously social, millennials often engage in local causes through volunteering, advocacy, and monetary contributions. Their engagement with a cause is often driven by feelings of inspiration, urgency, and a responsibility to create change. They look for ways they can engage in a productive, meaningful way, often seeking out opportunities that enable them to use and develop their skill sets.

Millennials have found a strong ambitious desire to be actively engaged in causes, integrating themselves in the change making processes

Digital engagement is often the first step into direct engagement with an organization, with millennials prioritizing institutions with modern, transparent, and informative websites that deliver content relevant to them. Organizations that can leverage technology to connect with and develop personal connections with millennials often have the strongest intake streams for long term engagement.


3. Growth

Once a millennial has been captured in an engagement intake stream, expanding the potential of the relationship with the millennial frequently means leveraging previous interactions to capture value from future engagements as well as recurring contact. Continual engagement with a cause or institution fosters higher sentiment and psychological connection to the cause or institution. Organizations with strong engagement intake streams and proactive communication strategies are best geared for extracting long term value from millennials.

Bottom Line

Millennials are a huge part of the American economy and are here to stay. To engage Millennials, organizations should focus on their investments in impact and cause marketing, transparency, engagement opportunities, and contact channels. By adapting for the millennial generation now, organizations and institutions can ensure that they remain relevant and achieve long term success.

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