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#GivingUnderTheInfluence, aka, How to Influence the Next Generation of Giving

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On April 24, four panelists gathered to discuss their views on employee engagement in a digital culture. They shared their own troubles and triumphs with next-generation giving and gave guidance on how to bridge the gap of giving. Hear what these baby boomers, Gen X’ers and Millennials had to say—surprisingly, they were on the same page!

Sparked by America’s Charities’ recent report, SNAPSHOT: Trends and Strategies to Engage Employees in Greater Giving, this panel was pulled together to discuss what the research reveals—today’s world is facing the most dramatic shift in how employees are giving in the workplace. It’s time to fully engage employees and maximize the impact of the giving experience, inside and outside the walls of the workplace, in order to reach the next generation.

The full snapshot highlights five top trends—you can find all five here. Two of the top trends were discussed during the #GivingUnderTheInfluence symposium:

1.)   High Impact, Low Cost:  In 2006 when this study was conducted there was no social media and no e-giving related to workplace giving and engagement. Fast forward six years and now a whopping 80 percent of organizations surveyed said they use online and social media efforts for workplace giving and engagement.

2.)   The next generation has arrived: Millennials are now in the workplace and have different expectations. What was once the outlook for “tomorrow” is now “today”.

The Experts Weigh In

Among the panelists were Marc Johnson, vice president of Digital Strategy at APCO Worldwide; Tom Watson, president of CauseWired; George Weiner, founder and CEO of WholeWhale; and Heather Lofkin Wright, national director of community service for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The panelists weighed-in on how workplace engagement is changing due to the arrival of the next generation.

Johnson finds that the baby boomers and Gen X’ers are afraid of the next generation—the Millennials—due to the fact that they can’t control the medium—technology. The scary part for some? Johnson says that if you indulge in the next generation and engage their ideas, they will dramatically change the communication and cause marketing for the organization. Some just aren’t ready for that change, but it’s time to adjust. 

“The next generation will engage at a faster rate if you give them measurements to work up to and rewards for when they surpass those measurements,” encourages Johnson.

Weiner highlights the new world—the 360 degree world—all of which is following your every move. Your friends, family, colleagues, present employer and even future employers can follow you via technology, and that influences how the next generation portrays themselves online.

“A simple tweet can tell a good story and ‘make you’, or tell a bad story and ‘break you’—it’s terrifying,” says Weiner.

How then do you engage the next generation and influence workplace giving? The panelists guide you through their own experiences:

  • Ask the right questions to be able to communicate with the next generation and foster engagement (Lofkin Wright)
  • Catch them where they’re familiar: online. Be open to reverse mentoring—the next generation can engage your older staff to teach them about the digital culture (Lofkin Wright)
  • Tailor the position to the next generation. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey showed that 78 percent of the next generation are either actively looking for another job or interested in hearing about another job opportunity. If the position does not remain appealing to the next generation then they will leave. Unlike past generations, the Millennials may have brand loyalty, but it doesn’t mean they’ll stay forever (Lofkin Wright)
  • Reward with days off, more time away from the office, and promotions. Though the next generation looks at salary packages and locations when choosing a job, they’d like to be rewarded with things other than money (Lofkin Wright)
  • Change the way you casually communicate—“water cooler” talk has changed and you need to adapt in order to relate to the next generation, in turn making them feel engaged (Johnson)
  • Ask the question, “What are you working on next?” The next generation wants the confidence to evolve with the growing trends, and showing you have that confidence in them, and that they have the room to grow, will instill more loyalty for the organization. It is important to encourage and foster the next generation’s growth in the organization. Don’t stunt them or they’re gone (Weiner)

Appeal to the Next Generation’s Inner-Passion

The next generation won’t necessarily check the box on the annual campaign in the workplace automatically. “Millennials think twice before giving,” says Weiner. “They want to have a connection and understanding of the charity before they give, even if they work there.”

There are so many charities to give to and the next generation chooses based on passion and interests. They have a very care-focused generosity.

“Yes, they care about hunger, but they care about a very specific micro-level hunger group,” explains Johnson.

In order to reach down into the next generation’s passion, Johnson encourages nonprofits to provide the gateway to foster the next generation’s giving, but let go of the control. Let the next generation lead the focus of the money. This will show your trust in them, and in return you will gain their loyalty, and hopefully donations.

Though the next generation is specific with their giving, they’ll also open their wallets to give all of their money when their heartstrings are pulled, explains Lofkin Wright. So, instead of trying to convince the next generation to join you and donate to your broad cause, alter the cause to fit their passion and ultimately tug at their heartstrings. The cause has to be focused and relatable in order for the next generation to give. 

The Gist of the Next Generation of Giving

By the end of the symposium, four major findings were apparent:

1.)   Change is NOW! The rapid change of technology is happening. Case in point? The panelists’ twitter handles were listed below their names, titles and organizations—long gone are the days of listing your location (city and state). Online IS their location—as is the next generation’s. Engage them there.

2.)   A large cohort of the next generation is entering the workplace today and it’s time to stop planning for the shift and adjust to what’s happening NOW.

3.)   There are seven billion people in the world and six billion of them have cell phones, providing a huge knowledge base and communication tool. Use it to engage the next generation!

4.)   There is a larger financial debt facing the next generation that will change their perspectives on things. They’ll face more daily stress and pressure contributing to their rapid movement so they can keep up and get ahead. If you don’t adapt to this new perspective, you’ll be left in the dust. 

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