Millennials on a Mission: Idealism, Impact, Innovation

During this year’s Millennial Impact Forum (also known as MCON), thousands of leaders in philanthropy, social e...

During this year’s Millennial Impact Forum (also known as MCON), thousands of leaders in philanthropy, social enterprise, and technology joined together for two days of inspiration from our next generation of leaders. MCON takes place on the heels of the release of the Millennial Impact Report, an annual look at the Millennial generation and the ground they are staking out as they mature into adulthood.

Derrick Feldmann, President of Achieve, the researchers behind the Millennial Impact Project, said in his opening remarks, “We don’t study Millennials because they’re a part of the culture. We study them because they’re defining the culture.”

Here are a few juicy facts from the report:Millennial Donations

    By the year 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce
    91% of the female Millennials surveyed donated money to charities, and 84% of the male Millennials had donated
    Nearly half (47%) of the Millennials surveyed had volunteered for a cause or nonprofit in the past month.
    22% of Millennials surveyed gave more than $500 to nonprofits in 2013 and 12% gave more than $1,000.

Transforming the Nonprofit Culture

Millennials CycleDuring MCON, transformational young leaders shared their perspectives on giving—and living meaningfully—in a connected world. The conference centered on the key lessons learned since launching the research in 2010:

1. Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions. And, they prefer to perform smaller actions before fully committing to a cause.

2. Millennials are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers. Peer influence plays an important role in motivating Millennials to volunteer, attend events, participate in programs, and give.

3. Millennials treat their time, money, and assets as having equal value. Millennials view both their network and their voice as two additional types of assets they can offer a cause. Aided by technology, an individual who donates his or her voice may still give skills, time, and money.

4. Millennials need to experience a cause’s work without having to be on site. In 2013, more than 60% of respondents said they felt most invested in a cause when the nonprofit shared a compelling story about successful projects or the people it helps.

Throughout the conference, I noted three other key themes that should get you thinking:

    Millennials are seeking authenticity, and they are skeptical of ‘press-release’ good news, without human stories and data to back it up.
    They believe in the power of technology to drive real community change.
    Millennials do not see boundaries between work/play/family. As Jean Case related from a recent conversation with a Millennial, “I want to bring my full self to everything I’m about.” So employers, nonprofits, brands and Millennials are joined together in a cycle of engagement that unifies them in a way that did not exist in prior generations.

The Future of the Social Sector

As a nonprofit leader, why should you focus on Millennials, whose resources are small relative to their older counterparts? It’s simple. They have the power to generate passion, engagement and donations for your cause. (And, in less than 5 years, the oldest among them will be moving into major donor income levels.)

The strategies for engaging Millennials are no longer just preferences. They have become the norm for effective communication with all ages. As Derrick Feldmann puts it, “It is not overstating to say that a big part of the nonprofit sector’s future relies on its ability to respond to these young people’s charitable inclinations.”

Millennials on a Mission: Idealism, Impact, Innovation, July 1, 2014, Network for Good, by Jamie McDonald

Obama Seeks Nearly $4 Billion for Immigration Crisis

President Obama is requesting almost $4 billion in emergency funding from Congress to confront an immigration crisis ...

President Obama is requesting almost $4 billion in emergency funding from Congress to confront an immigration crisis from a wave of unaccompanied children surging across the southern border of the United States, White House officials said Tuesday.

The financial request, which is almost twice as much as initial reports had suggested might be necessary, would boost spending on border patrol agents, immigration judges, aerial surveillance, and new detention facilities. Nearly half of the money would be used to improve care for the children while they are moved through the deportation process.

“We are taking steps to protect due process but also to remove these migrants more efficiently,” a White House official said Tuesday morning. “We are taking an aggressive approach on both sides of the border.”
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 Congress will have its own ideas on how the $3.7 billion should be spent. And already there were signs from Republicans on Tuesday that the president’s proposal did not address all of their concerns. Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, said a “working group on the border crisis” would review the proposal.

As tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors cross into the United States this year, immigration reform is stalled. The issues are related but not the same. Here’s why.
Video Credit By Christian Roman, Carrie Halperin and Emily B. Hager on Publish Date July 7, 2014. Image CreditEric Gay/Associated Press

“The speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas — which this proposal does not address,” Mr. Steel said.

The decision to ask Congress for more money comes as Mr. Obama leaves for Texas on Tuesday on a previously scheduled trip that involves political fund-raising and events focused on the middle class and the economy.

Mr. Obama is not scheduled to travel to the border during his visit, but he has offered to meet privately with Governor Rick Perry, after Mr. Perry declined a photo-op handshake with the president in front of Air Force One when Mr. Obama arrives.

In a letter he sent to the White House on Monday afternoon, Mr. Perry rejected “a quick handshake on the tarmac,” but offered to meet with Mr. Obama “at any time” for a “substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue.”

Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser, invited Mr. Perry to a roundtable discussion about the issue with faith leaders and local officials in Dallas. White House officials said Tuesday that Mr. Perry had accepted the invitation, but officials in the governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The delicate negotiations over a meeting between the two leaders underscore the high stakes for politicians as they deal with the huge numbers of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States in recent months.

Mr. Obama is under intense pressure from Republicans to show that he is cracking down on the new wave of illegal immigration. The White House has said it intends to ask Congress for more money to more efficiently return the children to their countries. The administration has also said it wants Congress to give officials more authorities to process the children faster.

But the president is also receiving criticism from immigration activists, who have long urged Mr. Obama to reduce the number of deportations of illegal immigrants already in the country. The president is expected this summer to announce steps he will take to moderate deportation policies, especially in cases where the deportations separate established families.
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The immediate question of a meeting with Mr. Perry also highlighted the sensitive nature of the public relations decisions facing the White House in a situation like this.

White House officials had said last week that they saw no reason to send Mr. Obama to the border for a speech or event to draw attention to the latest immigration issue. Officials have said repeatedly that the president has no plans to do that on his trip.

But the governor’s letter made it clear that Republicans are eager to draw Mr. Obama into the issue more directly.

“I have followed up with several further communications inviting you to tour the border and view this crisis firsthand,” Mr. Perry wrote. “At any point while you are here, I am available to sit down privately so we can talk and you may directly gain my state’s perspective on the effects of an unsecured border and what is necessary to make it secure.”

White House officials said the emergency funding would support what they called an “all of government” response to the immigration crisis. Most of the immigrants are from Central America, and the funding request includes new money for those nations to combat the violence that is driving parents there to send their children to the United States, they said.

In a conference call with reporters, officials who spoke only on background declined to offer specifics about how many more children would be returned to their countries with the additional funding, or how much faster the children would be processed through the legal system.

“The bottom line here is the number of kids removed is not large enough,” one White House official said, adding that “the process, frankly, is much too long.”

Officials repeatedly described the situation at the southern border as an “urgent humanitarian situation” and said that unaccompanied children must be protected and treated well even as many of them are processed to be sent home.

The White House aides said they expected members of Congress in both parties to support the funding request in the same way that other emergencies like wildfires and floods often receive bipartisan backing.

Officials said they had not dropped a parallel request for Congress to amend existing laws to give the Department of Homeland Security more authority to process and deport the Central American immigrants more quickly.

Currently, federal law requires a more lengthy and complicated process for handling Central American immigrants than it does for Mexican immigrants who cross illegally. One White House official said the administration was seeking to have “one approach to children coming from the region.”

But officials said they do not want Congress to wait on the funding request while the question of changes to the immigration laws were debated.

Obama Seeks Nearly $4 Billion for Immigration Crisis, July 8, 2014, The New York Times, by Michael D. Shear

Please let Shelley Rood know if your agency is engaged in refugee resettlement.  It is our understanding that part of this funding would go to maintain existing refugee resettlement work.


5 Tips to Start Your Nonprofit Thought Leadership Plan

Every so often, change makers and nonprofit leaders are unsure about how to activate the most powerful resource they ...

Every so often, change makers and nonprofit leaders are unsure about how to activate the most powerful resource they have – their intellectual capital.

Organizations can be treasure troves of big ideas just waiting to be unleashed and shared with the world, but these same organizations can have limited resources and small or non-existent communications and marketing teams more focused on sharing information and trying to drum up support in an overcrowded charity marketplace.

Thought leadership communications is arguably the most effective and least expensive way a smaller organization can build awareness, support for ideas, and influence the communities they need to reach, including decision makers, policy makers and donors. Nonprofits have their missions but they are often unsure about how to wrap that same mission around a bigger idea – an idea that is woven into the every day world their donors and supporters live in, and that helps those same donors and supporters, better understand the nonprofits work. It’s not easy to all of the sudden turn your nonprofit leaders and your organization into a thought leader – it takes time and commitment but it can be done.

Here’s the thing: So many nonprofit leaders want to become thought leaders but that means so much more than asking your communications staff to share content on topics that are within the organizations subject area expertise. It means more than attending conferences. Thought leadership means you’re leading with your thinking. You’re leading with ideas. You’re leading because you are choosing to empower others with information and analysis that is difficult to find elsewhere. You’re adding real value to an existing conversation. And you’re doing it all consistently. It’s that simple … and that challenging.

Below are five ways your nonprofit can begin having the ‘thought leadership’ conversation:

Start with the big idea

1. Every big idea starts with a vision. It has a strong viewpoint and brings new insight and problem solving to an existing issue. Ask yourself and your team, what original, innovative and valuable perspective your organization and the communities you work with bring to the table. What do you want to achieve from it?

Overcome fear

2. Effective thought leadership programs are an organizational development function not just a public relations function. Powerful thought leadership campaigns need to be embedded into the culture of an organization in order to be truly successful. Sharing and taking a position can be a frightening act for a nonprofit that doesn’t necessarily engage in advocacy work. Teams need to be on board with sharing ideas and insights with the world. Does your culture support that? If not, what steps can be taken to inch toward that goal?

Tell a great story

3. Concentrate on telling one focused, compelling and clear story that supports your big idea and communicate it using channels you know your audience engages with. Social media is a no brainer but there’s also traditional media, speaking events, panels and conferences, that can position your organization as an expert in your field.

Become a resource

4. People don’t like to be sold things, for the most part. Even when what you’re selling is a noble and brilliant cause. That said, they do buy into solutions, expertise and problem-solving. Share your insights in an accessible and digestible way. Spread your idea. Be consistent. Offer guidance and people will follow.

Inspire action

5. Powerful communications and thought leadership can inspire people to act. Whatever your idea is, make sure that it is actionable. What do you want people to do? Be brave. Ask for what you want.

5 Tips to Start Your Nonprofit Thought Leadership Plan, June 25, 2014, eJP, by Caroline Avakian