This blog post is written in response to this article, found on the Huffington Post.
I want to start with a small complaint: I am so tired of hearing older generations call Millennials selfish, entitled, lazy, and any other variation of said descriptors. Remember this statement. We’ll come back to this in a minute.
This HuffPost article was written in response to / in summary of / in relation to a research piece originally summarized by the Washington Post. It’s essentially an article about an article explaining why Millennials do things differently in a way that appeals to older crowds.
If I’m being completely honest, I feel like this article is pointed in the right direction, but it missed the mark. It talks a lot about charitable giving at the corporate level, such as engaging us in paycheck allocations, incentive programs, and group giving opportunities - even how we’re more compelled when we’re emotionally invested in a cause. It talks about how we’re optimistic, how we care about the future, how we try to do less harm.
It’s when the article starts providing helpful tips and tricks to engaging Millennials that I start to squirm a little bit. Maybe it’s because the author suggests integrating giving so heavily with corporate measures. Maybe it’s how the article heavily ties volunteer work to professional work - I’m not entirely sure. There seems to be this undercurrent of I’m-just-volunteering/donating-to-boost-my-resume vibe when I genuinely question how common that motivating factor really is among my peers.
The original research was performed on just over 2,500 individuals classified as Millennials. Compared to the 20 some-odd million living in the US alone, this sample size is not significant. Not to mention the report does not specify whether participants come from a variety of geographical areas, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, religious communities, industries, and sexual and gender identities. While there is likely some diversity, the fact that the survey is held online already eliminates a large pool of participants who may not have access to computers on a regular basis. I find it hard to believe that this sample size is able to paint an accurate picture of our entire generation.
The main reason why I am critical towards their sample size is because there is such a heavy emphasis on “corporate” and “workplace” in an economy where so many college graduates are struggling to get their foot into the corporate door - not to mention the vast number of individuals who can’t even afford to go to college in the first place.
In an effort to tie this back into my initial complaint, because of the economy older generations created for us today, we see the importance of contributing to the greater good, if I may wax poetic for a moment. When we are fortunate enough to have extra, financially speaking, we prioritize giving our money to causes that are important to us, whether that be Planned Parenthood, cancer research, animal rights, or some other valiant cause. In cases where we have extra time, we see the importance of giving our skills to organizations that need more hands. We acknowledge the vital role these movements play in creating a thriving, sustainable future rather than just another item to write off our taxes at the end of the year.
Ultimately, we understand the importance of working together to make a better future for younger generations. We strive to move beyond the cookie cutter, corporate careers of our parents and grandparents and we see how smaller contributions made regularly can make an even greater impact. Yes, positive incentives are wonderful. Yes, making it easy to give back is awesome - but what we’re really looking for is an opportunity to make this world a better place.