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6 Ways to Engage Millennial Volunteers

By 3p Contributor

From technology to the challenges our communities face, it’s rare that we move on each year without a shift from the status quo.

Volunteering is no different.

Not so long so, during the age of Generation X, those citizens connected with non-profit organizations. However, for Generation X, volunteering was often about philanthropy.

In comparison, many millennials are more hands-on. They frequently want to give more than money, as they want to contribute as they know more about the cause and become emotionally invested. Millennials seek purpose; volunteering is one way for them to find meaning while doing something aligned with their passion while boosting their professional development.

Engaging the Millennials

Compared with everything else on a millennial’s plate, it is essential to link the volunteering activity to a passion the person already has. For example, book-lovers could enjoy recording audio books for the visually challenged.

Many millennials have developed extensive networks and understand the pulse of the online world and know what gets popular. Showing millennials they can make a difference by helping an awareness campaign online — just by liking and sharing — can open their eyes to how the things they already do can be harnessed for good.

6 factors that drive millennials in their volunteering zeal

Honing and developing skills: Offer millennials avenues where they can sharpen existing skills and develop soft skills such as team building, goal setting, problem-solving, and adaptability. The results could assist them in their professional growth, while doing something that will give them a purpose, harness their passion and keep them engaged. Volunteering can also spark a realization in their abilities and interests of which they may have been previously unaware. For example, when Brillio volunteers taught school students 3D design printing, they ended up going beyond their basic skills and learned far more about this new technology – hence a win-win situation.

Volunteering during work hours: Such a program requires a work culture that provides both meaningful tasks and connection to the outside world. As millennials make their presence known in more and more corporate leadership roles, they look for organizations that offer them corporate volunteering opportunities. By giving them opportunities to get out and get involved, millennials will feel more connected. At Brillio, we organize our own “TGIF” activities during which employees spend one to two hours every Friday helping students with their school work either in person or via Skype.

Random acts of responsivity: One benefit of volunteering is the impact on local communities. Millennials want to a connection with the places in which they live and work, and one way to make their communities better places is with random act of kindness. Such steps can be something as simple as picking up trash from the side of the road to switching off the lights and fans when there is no one in the room.

Raising funds: Don’t underestimate the power of crowdfunding. Millennials are taking full advantage of this unique opportunity to make their community work reach that much further. They go online, talk about their passions, and gather support and funds for the cause.

Create your own tools: Today, there are online tools that don't just give young people access to information, but also allow them to create their own materials. When they are unable to find an initiative in which they are interested, millennials seek the opportunity and empowerment to strike out on their own. Examples I have seen include the use of digital media to spread awareness on issues like road safety or creating an app for women safety.

Voices on social media: From a young age, millennials expressed themselves, their interests and their causes in various ways on different channels. Their constant connection to the online world has allowed them to be exposed to more issues, which has helped to create a particularly empathetic generation. They want to reach out and help, and their tech-savviness enables them to generate impact while giving them a voice for the causes about which they are concerned.

Brillio’s research

We conducted a survey last year to assess the impact of volunteering at Brillio in order to gain feedback and suggestions so we could improve our programs. The majority of respondents who took part in the survey were millennials. Through the survey we learned:

  • 96 percent of employees feel that volunteering has assisted in improving their productivity;

  • 96 percent found their stress levels reduced;

  • And 94% of employees who participated in volunteer programs were likely to recommend Brillio to a friend or family.

This survey helped us understand the pulse of our employees and identify the gaps in our volunteering. To ensure your volunteering programs are aligned with your employees’ needs and interests, it’s important that you revisit these programs regularly to understand the gaps and realign efforts accordingly. While revisiting your volunteering efforts remember to align them with the three P's that drive the new age workforce — passion, purpose, and professional development.

Image credit: Brillio Technologies

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