To tell you the truth, I think this whole “Millennials” thing has pretty much become a way for websites to attract a bunch of extra clicks. We in the older generations love to complain about these spoiled kids and their loud music, and Millennials love reading articles about themselves. So what's a guy to do when the media stops focusing on his generation and starts giving all the attention to a younger one? Jump on the bandwagon, of course!
All jokes aside, Millennials (also known as Generation Y) have a pretty unique outlook when it comes to life and finances. In my visits to a bunch of really cool college campuses across the Midwest, I've met some students doing some really cool things and chasing big dreams. And while I'm envious of all the new gadgets and technology these kids have grown up with, I'm also a little relieved that Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat weren't around to capture some of my “learning experiences” during college.
Because many of the younger Millennials are reaching that age where they're graduating college and entering the workforce, I know a lot of social sector leaders are looking to connect with this generation (especially because Millennials do seem to be focused on making a positive impact with their dollars and deeds). So let's chat about these young whippersnappers.
There's a lot of conflicting information out there surrounding Gen Y's financial prospects. While most of us in the industry agree most Americans haven't saved enough for retirement on the whole, Millennials are doing a better job according to some, while others claim they're falling even further behind.
The biggest problem we see for Millennials is mounting student loan debt. With the total student loan debt accumulating at more than $1.2 trillion, it's not terribly surprising some members of Gen Y are having a hard time saving money, paying off debt and dealing with rising rent prices. However, not all hope is lost. As Jeff Reeves writes for CNBC, there are plenty of ways Millennials can help themselves save for retirement, including maxing out their employer 401(k) match (good advice for everyone), keeping investments simple, and putting your money to work by trusting in the long-term power of the market.
Leading to Tomorrow
For social sector institutions looking to attract top-tier talent, there are quite a few things they can do to set themselves apart. For starters, a company-sponsored retirement plan like a 403(b) can be a big attraction for those facing student loan debt. While many younger workers tend to gravitate toward smaller and more flexible workplaces, benefits such as these make a big difference in the attractiveness of a potential job.
Another big draw for many new members of the workforce is the ability to see that their work is making a difference in the world. Luckily, that's pretty easy for most social sector institutions to demonstrate. Making sure your organization's purpose and mission are well known, especially among members of your team, will help attract and retain Millennial workers, donors and advocates.
When looking to Millennials as donors, it generally makes more sense to go for the steady trickle approach. Because of the student loan burden, attracting Millennial donors usually involves soliciting a small regular donation instead of hosting banquets or big fundraisers. Plus, while Millennials may not have the deep pockets that their older counterparts do, they're much more influential on social media. Having a small army of social media advocates can be worth thousands on its own.
Meet the Millennials
While some people are down on Millennials, most of the younger folks I've met with are just as concerned about making the world a better place as the rest of the social sector. They may not be on your radar just yet, but Gen Y will soon be the biggest donors and advocates for your organization. Making sure you know how and where to connect with them will keep your institution sailing smoothly into the future.
I just personally won't be asking them for any music recommendations anytime soon. I'm sticking with my 80s classics.
Ryan Rink is the co-founder and president of Two West Companies, and gets really pumped up about working with the social sector. He's pumped that the weather is getting nice enough to get the grill fired up once again.