Perspectives on Philanthropy: Millennials At Work

 “Millennials want to work for a company that doesn’t just make money, but gives back to society,” said Dan Schawbel, founder and managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. With Giving USA reporting that charitable giving by corporations decreased 1.9% from 2012 to 2013 and Millennials expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030, companies need to pay close attention to their corporate philanthropy programs. Corporate philanthropy includes financial donations and non-cash contributions, such as volunteer time, to non-profits.

According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, the top three factors Millennials (those born between 1982 and 1993) consider when applying for a job are what the company does, the company’s work culture, and the company’s involvement with causes.

Schawbel said, “company culture is paramount to Millennials, who value work-life balance, flexibility, the type of work they do, and the people they work with.  Millennials see their colleagues as friends or part of a work family.”

Given their affinity for their coworkers, one of the best programs companies can offer are days of service. “By collectively logging hundreds, if not thousands, of community service hours through a day of service, companies not only show their employees the collective benefit to society, but give them an opportunity to develop stronger relationships with their coworkers,” said Schawbel. Of those surveyed, the Millennial Impact Report found that 47% had volunteered for a cause or nonprofit within the last month and as many as 87% donated money to a nonprofit in 2013. Millennials are also likely to participate in workplace giving campaigns.

These attitudes aren’t likely to change soon. “High school students, who are part of Generation Z, volunteer more than college students,” said Schawbel. “It helps them build their networks and develop their skill sets.”

So how can your corporate philanthropy program engage Millennials and attract Generation Z? While employee giving campaigns are a popular choice, Millennials want to participate in more days of service and more projects they can do with their work teams or departments. They also like volunteer opportunities that allow them to use their individual skills—depending on your industry, you may want to start a pro bono service program in the community. One innovative idea suggested by the Millennial Impact Report is to offer short sabbaticals for employees to spend volunteering full-time. No matter what, a company must have a strong corporate philanthropy program to succeed in the 21st century.