Not Just Me, Me, Me: Tapping Into Millennials’ Charitable Nature

By: Sean Brenner

Millennials may have a reputation for being a somewhat self-centered demographic. There was, for example, that Time magazine cover story, “The Me Me Me Generation,” which featured such factoids as “58 percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982.” But increasingly, that negative image is being erased by new insights showing that millennials are at least as interested in service and giving back as their predecessors.

YPulse puts it this way: “We’ve seen for some time that young consumers are looking for brands that help them to make a difference, and they are drawn to brands that make them feel good about themselves — which for many means those brands than make them feel they’re making a positive impact on the world.”

A recent post on the National Philanthropic Trust’s blog reported that, in 2014, almost 85 percent of millennials gave to charity and 70 percent volunteered. True, in some cases, that philanthropy looks different than it did for Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. In part, that’s because giving might take place online or via mobile phone.

And millennials have helped spur a change in how charitable giving is defined. As noted in an Entrepreneur column, they’re a “driving force” behind the rise of crowdfunding, which — in addition to funding Zach Braff movies and new-and-improved cat litter boxes (sorry) — has been used to help pay for strangers’ medical needs, college funds or other noble purposes.

Perhaps not surprisingly, that charitable outlook also extends to what millennials expect from the brands they buy from. More and more, they not only prefer to give their business to socially conscious brands; they actually expect brands to be socially conscious. As reported in Adweek, “70 percent will spend more on brands that support causes.”

One of the places where millennials’ interest in giving is most evidenced is on college campuses. More than 9 million students participate in fundraisers each year, collectively raising more than $475 million per year in the U.S. alone. In Canada, another 660,000 students participate per year, garnering an additional $11 million. Those figures include the amount fraternities, sororities, clubs and intramural teams and other groups raised for themselves, but also for local community organizations and national charities.

For brands, supporting students through those fundraising initiatives can be a spot-on way to demonstrate their commitment to the causes millennials care about, build relationships with them and ultimately earn their trust and brand loyalty.

A note from Newbridge: Newbridge Marketing Group is proud to partner with FlipGive to deliver a campus fundraising solution to students. If you’re a college student, visit Campus Causes to start raising money for your cause today. If you’re a brand interested in supporting campus fundraisers, contact Newbridge to become a merchant partner.