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    Posted March 31, 2014 by
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    Millennials, You Have My Attention: Now Help Innovate for Social Purpose

    Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift, LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, Sandra Fluke, Malala Yousafzai, Adam Braun and every Millennial born between 1982 and 1993, you have my attention. That includes my daughter and those young adults whom I consider “my kids”. I have been reading a lot about your generation lately and I have to admit, there was a time when I thought you were entitled, but I have started to see your impact on the world as you mature. You are suspicious of existing institutions and are tossing out some of the old ways of thinking that do not work, and in some cases, you are disrupting things completely in order to innovate and change the rules. Social media is a great example of that and any organization that does not use it effectively does so at their peril. I respect the fact that you are a force to be reckoned with in the world and society.

    Here is what I know about you from a great piece by Dan Schwabel entitled “74 Of The Most Interesting Facts About The Millennial Generation”:

    81% have donated money, goods or services. [Walden University and Harris Interactive]
    On track to become the most educated generation in American history. [Pew Research]
    61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference. [Huffington Post]
    By next year (2014), millennials will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75% of the global workplace. [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics / The Business and Professional Women's Foundation]

    As a GenXer, I love your energy and innovation. I don’t always agree with everything you are doing and sometimes, I plain don’t understand, but I am trying to comprehend and I want to work with you. I am energized by your spirit. And in talking to colleagues who work full-time in the social purpose sector, there are a lot of us who want to work with you to make a difference in the world and explore new ways of thinking. I will warn you, though, there are a few die-hards who are happy with the status quo and do not really want to hear what you are saying or proposing (although they may pretend to be listening) because you are “so young”. Don’t let that deter you because we were all there once. And the world is richer for those of us who can accept a diversity of thought and opinion in the exchange of ideas about how to make things better.

    So, since 81% of you have donated to a cause, 61% of you are worried about the world and 84% of you want to make a positive difference in the world, would you please join forces with those of us who are Baby Boomers and GenXers to help resolve the intractable issues our world faces with regard to the environment, health, poverty, education, human and equality rights for one and all, etc?

    I am talking about working with and in the social purpose sector (ie. non-profits/NGOs). I am talking about the good and great charities around the globe that need to have your input in order to grow to scale, get brought up to speed on technology, innovate and create in order to have a greater impact in their mission. Please, if you have not already become involved, do so. I have always thought experience and youth made for a forceful combination, so long as different generations and individuals were open to working with each other, without ego, to earnestly solve issues that will only make for a better place for every living thing on earth. Isn’t that what we should aspire to as individuals – to make a meaningful difference?

    Millennials, I have been having debates these past few weeks with folks who work in charities around the world and to a certain extent there is frustration because when you get older you will find that time is getting shorter and it is very precious and there is still so much work to be done. During the course of the 20 years I have been in the business, I have seen a great and earnest desire by many – although by no means from all – to end the status quo when something is not working. But, change is not something that often comes easy and sometimes people fear the unknown and prefer to stick with what they know. Many of us believe, however, that is not good enough. As a friend wrote to me recently, “If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning for today will not exist in this form tomorrow.”

    So, please continue to take a look at the world around you and know this, you have a generation (tentatively called Generation Z, although that is probably up for grabs and will change once some creative journalist figures out a catchy name) growing up right behind you who will upset the apple cart that you have built and believe as “truth” in your mind. Don’t wait for tomorrow to start making the change and helping those who have come before you to improve the lives of everyone and everything on this planet.

    How? You can start with a local shelter, school, food bank, church or hospital, for example. One of my favorites is DoSomething.org. On their website, they state, they are, “The largest org for young people and social change, our 2.5 million members tackle campaigns that impact every cause, from poverty to violence to the environment to literally everything else. Any cause, anytime, anywhere.” In their own words, they want to, “Make the world suck less”.

    And, if you want to shorten the learning curve and are ever interested in knowing some of the opportunities and challenges I have seen within the non-profit/NGO sector, please feel free to drop me a line at @LNSpencer. In the meantime, I will continue to write my thoughts about improving the charitable sector so we move beyond the “tin cup” mentality that oftentimes seems to exist and I look forward to hearing about your experiences and thoughts on making a positive difference in the world.

    Posted: March 31, 2014

    Originally posted at lnspencer.wordpress.com

    © 2014 Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose™” all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose™” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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