If you haven’t noticed, The Case Foundation does good work. They undertake research and promote programs that cover civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. A solid mix of what makes the world work in better ways. Cutting across these areas is a focus on the next generation – Millennials. In working with Achieve, a survey of Millennials is conducted and published as The Millennial Impact Report, done since 2011.
The 2016 edition of The Millennial Impact Report begins with Wave 1 Trends is available and was released during MCON, the Millennial engagement conference. You can register and download a copy of the report. Understanding and working with the next generation of leaders is one of the most important activities leaders can do. All practical and engaging insights help.
Millennial Impact: Direction and Attitudes
In reading through the report, several statistics popped. My objective is to highlight the elements I found interesting and then outline some suggestions to consider.
Key Issues for Millennials
For Millennials, the top three social issues from the survey are:
- Education (29%)
- Health care (25%)
- Economy (24%)
These are bread-and-butter issues. With education costs soaring, along with the student loan debt, and the importance of good health care and a robust economy, these are the elements that deliver a foundation for any citizen. A solid foundation fosters a productive and meaningful life.
Being an Activist
An added element covers how Millennials identify with being an activist. They were asked to rate, on a scale of 0 to 100 percent, how much they agree with the statement: “I am an activist (a person who behaves intentionally to bring about political or social change).” The results:
- Average response was just over neutral (54%)
- Median response was 60 percent (somewhat believe they are activists)
Millennials lean toward wanting to bring political or social change. Some may think this is a liberal thing, yet the individuals surveyed showed a balance – 50% identifying as conservative, 43% liberal, and 7% neutral or other. Today’s political and economic environment seems to show we are stuck in not doing much or reversing to outdated policies. We need to engage the Millennial mindset and believe, like they do, that people like them can have an impact in the U.S. to make it a better place to live (90% of Millennials surveyed).
The Trust Gap
We have the trust gap. More than half of Millennials trust the government only a little or not at all to do what is right. An unfortunate, but understandable, attitude. Interestingly, as Millennials age, trust in government grows. In the “trust them a lot” category, the statistics grow as the age category increases:
- 18-24: 9%
- 25-30: 18%
- 31-36: 25%
Millennials Are Acting
Millennials are not sitting on the sidelines. In May, 76% of Millennials indicated that they plan to vote in the upcoming election. A healthy majority yet it has declined from the previous two months. Today’s campaigns have a way of discouraging people. As important element is the practical work Millennials do. To affect social issues, Millennials are acting:
- 46% volunteered
- 52% donated
Encouraging greater volunteerism is a must, especially since Millennials are the future leaders for many of the social good and social cause organizations. Organizations, like Social Venture Partners Dallas, need to activate the next generation of social venture leaders.
Review the infographic below for added insights from The Millennial Impact Report. An added note of gratitude to Achieve and The Case Foundation for their work and insights.
Millennial Impact: Activating Steps
We are at a perplexing crossroad. The current U.S. political campaign highlights disturbing divisiveness, and the recent Brexit vote drives another wedge between young and old and a European union. What gets damaged in this process is the future.
First, we need to encourage and set an example of leading and building toward a better future.
Stalemate is not progress. Preventing votes on laws and programs that build a better future needs to stop. We need to encourage civil, productive debate and then vote. Our political leaders need to set a better example.
Self-centered, short-term actions do not produce long-term value. Building profitable businesses is possible when combined with a focus on a bigger purpose and a respectful organizational culture. Our business leaders need to set a better example.
We need to use our power of example to create a better future state of possibility and outcome.
Second, we all need to vote for a better future.
The intention to vote is important. The actual vote is critical. The mindset of the voter needs to incorporate who and what will create a better future. To get to a better future, we need the right mix of people and actions to move things forward in the next year, five years, and ten years. A cross-generational focus eliminates barriers and creates a flow of better ideas, people, and actions.
We need a progressive mindset as we vote.
Third, we need to restore trust in our government.
To restore trust, it takes a community. The community includes citizens who are business leaders, non-profit leaders, political leaders, and all who lead from where they are. We need to take a deep breath and take a step up in our responsibility. We need to act in ways that make our grandkids and great grandkids proud. We need to take actions that create a better future story.
We need to act with forethought, transparency, and integrity. Trust restores when we act in ways that create a future in which we can smile with pride.
Fourth, we need to be activists.
To bring generations together, we need to behave “intentionally to bring about political or social change.” It begins with positive behavior and good intentions. Change happens, and we have a choice. We can do everything to try to prevent change and then fail to adapt in productive ways. Or, we can understand the trends of change and guide it in ways that create a better outcome for as many people and stakeholders as possible. We need to choose to guide change rather than stunt it.
Millennials have a great responsibility, just as all generations do.
Millennials will have an impact. As they fill more corporate, charitable, and government leadership positions, they need to do so with grace, future-oriented intentions, and inclusive, productive actions. What The Millennial Impact Report highlights is encouraging and refreshing.
We have a long-haul ahead. For older generations, we need to lower barriers and eliminate fixed mindsets. For younger generations, we need to do the same and lead forward with the lessons of the past. After all, we always need to remember that we are in this together.