I’m getting a jump on my summer reading! Colleagues Kari Dunn Saratovsky and Derrick Feldmann have published a new book called Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement. The book is based on their many years of research, convening, and consulting with nonprofits on how to engage with this younger generation. The book is a must-read and their annual conference, MCON, is a must attend – if you want the latest thinking about strategy to engage younger people in the sector – both inside and outside of your nonprofit’s walls.
The book is a great read for nonprofit leaders of all generations. It takes us through why it is important for nonprofits to connect with Millennials based on a good synthesis of recent research and follows through with informative chapters that will help your nonprofit build a solid strategy for connecting with the connected generation in your organization’s communication’s strategy. It also offers examples, inspiration, and best practices for developing the leadership potential of these leaders in your nonprofit’s organization.
I found the chapter about motivations and tips for encouraging Millennnials to volunteer very valuable. It begins with a story about Team Rubicon, a new model for disaster relief organization and veteran-focused enterprise founded by Jake Wood shortly after the Haiti Earthquake. Wood, like many Millennials, are trying to find meaning in their work and delaying entry into the traditional workforce. The book gives the example of enrollment numbers in AmeriCorps which are at record numbers, but more importantly talks about how their alumni represent a paradigm shift, an opportunity to harness on-the-ground experience into a new leadership generation – either in the US or abroad.
Millennials are a new breed of doers and as a result nonprofits need to better understand how to engage them in volunteer work. As the book points out, it goes beyond providing good volunteer opportunities to offering a relational experience between the volunteer and the organization. The book suggests that nonprofits need to solicit feedback, provide follow up, and ask what they could do better. While there are fantastic platforms for nonprofits to recruit volunteers, they have make the experience an engaging one for this generation in order to transform them into champions and supporters. The book offers some advice:
- Provide experiences based on skills
- Focus on the 3 R’s (Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition)
- Build a continuum of engagement from micro-volunteering to deep engagement of serving on a board of trustees
- Key to retaining Millennial volunteers is providing: flexible opportunities, leverage their social/personal networks, provide career building opportunities, engage for their skills
- Be open, transparent and solicit feedback
- Create an advisory group of Millennials to help guide your volunteer program
As the book points out, Millennials want to serve and many are willing to combine service with giving – if nonprofits can incorporate these practices in their volunteer programs. How is your nonprofit adapting its volunteer program to attract younger people to serve and as future donors?
If you want to learn more about how to work with Millennials from both inside and outside your nonprofit, head to MCON Conference in Indianapolis in July. More information here.