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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Millennials & Nonprofits: Why It Must Work


Millennials are often criticized for being a generation consumed by the internet, and stereotyped as self-entitled, phone-addicted zombies. However, that narrow depiction fails to address the fact that despite increasing student debt, a higher cost of living, and somewhat limited job opportunities, we still place a value on making a lasting impact on our communities and the world at large, especially when it comes to social issues and injustice.

While older generations may call it “evil,” the internet has allowed millennials around the globe to engage in an unprecedented level of activism, regardless of their location and other extenuating circumstances, like education or financial means. Today, advocating or fundraising for a cause only takes a couple of clicks, and that influence cannot, and should not, be ignored.

According to a 2014 report done by Optus, an Australian telecommunications company, entitled Generation We Not Me, “the time and money given by Millennials to charitable causes is estimated to total more than AU$3 billion each year, with 94 percent of Millennials donating money to charity in 2013. The report also found that Australian Millennials donate more than 16 million volunteer hours per month, which equals around AU$260 million. And 67 percent of Millennials volunteered in 2013, compared to 62 percent of Gen Xs and 64 percent of Baby Boomers.”

On a broader scale, this data provides some insight into the unique motivators that make millennials a vital force for securing the successful future of nonprofits. Unlike previous generations, our job hunting is motivated by a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey 2019 even concluded that 60% of Millennials cite this as a key factor when evaluating potential employers. 

While these data points appear to point to increased Millennial participation and employment in the nonprofit sector, one barrier continues to stand in the way: money. 

It would be wrong to assume that nonprofit work cannot be both financially and personally rewarding. However, it is well-known that nonprofit organizations often struggle to match the competitive packages offered by for-profit institutions. ProInspire, an entrepreneurial nonprofit, notes that companies like Google capitalize on Millennials’ value of purpose and fulfillment, centering their mission statements around that ideal while at the same time providing a wage that allows Millennials to afford and increased the cost of living and pay off student debt. 

Let’s be honest, compensation in the nonprofit sector is a difficult topic to address. Yet, the only way to ensure greater Millennial participation in this space is to attempt to revamp our current system. Forward-thinking organizations are looking for innovative solutions  to these salary challenges The leadership at charity:water created a system called “The Pool,” where entrepreneurs donate a portion of stocks with private corporations to charity: water, and when that said company is sold or goes public, a portion of the revenue is reinvested in their employees’ bonuses. In an interview with the New York Times, Scott Harrison, the organization’s Chief Executive, believes that it’s not ethical for the Millenials working at his company to “toil away on nonprofit salaries while their friends [get] rich…” The Pool is just one-way charity: water is trying to attract talented employees who may be considering opportunities with large, for-profit companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

No one can deny it: nonprofits play an essential role in society. They offer much-needed social services to individuals in need, defend and advocate for the voiceless and underrepresented, promote health, safety, and inclusion in our communities, and so much more. Nonprofits provide opportunities for individual and community growth and success that would be impossible to achieve without a force actively working for their cause. We must keep this truth in mind as we discuss the need for change in nonprofit compensation. Let’s work together to find collaborative solutions that will support the ongoing success of nonprofit organizations and the individuals who work for them and depend on them. 

This post was contributed by Jessica Cunha, a Digital Marketing and Fundraising Intern at Charity Navigator. Jessica is currently studying at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts as a Political Communication Major with minors in Nonprofit Communication Management and Public Diplomacy. She believes that nonprofits play a vital role in the world and is passionate about Charity Navigator’s mission to find charities the public can trust and support.

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