A recent Fortune poll revealed that millennials, more so than their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts, value companies that give to charity. As the generation that came of age during the Great Recession, millennials saw big companies fail and the greed of others affect the lives of countless working Americans. Millennials are also the first digital-native generation, looking to build brand trust not only on product quality, but on brand development and social media. Therefore, it's not surprising that millennials value corporate social responsibility.
Millennials will buy a pair of shoes because another will be donated to a child in need, in the case of the boom of popularity of brands like TOMS. The TOMS brand was able to sell millions of shoes that were not luxury or high-fashion - their signature style is a simple canvas slip-on - but because they were able to build a brand that made people feel good, something that everyone wanted to be part of. Millennials, however, will also be the ones to challenge those same brands on the responsibility of such acts of charity, and question how this practice affects local economies. In an increasingly globalized world, this generation, and those to come, will be more and more aware of how their purchasing and actions affect others around the world, and want to hold companies accountable.
This same principle applies to millennials and non-profits. This group expects that if they give a dollar, they should be able to see the impact of that dollar, and more often than not, they will want to direct that dollar to a specific cause to guarantee its impact. As millennials begin to reach the age where they are building wealth, they are treating their donations as investments for social good, and as such, they expect to see returns. Millennials want to build trust with non-profits just as they do with corporations, so communication is key to acquire and maintain young donors. When a non-profit can demonstrate its successes on social media and share individual impact stories rather than using digital tools simply as another means to ask for money, they will likely see more success among donors, young and old alike.