The next generation

July 27, 2012

 **Disclaimer — The writer of this post is not a Millennial.

These days, it’s impossible to miss the fact that there’s a tremendous fixation on cracking the Millennial code.

How do we attract more of them to our donor files? How can we tap into them as future leaders?  How do we engage and involve them?
We recently attended a conference where it was fascinating to watch how this generation was called out. Many of the Millennials in attendance appeared to love it, as they grouped together and labeled themselves “Us Millennials,” as though they were a different and more special subset of the larger goals we were all there to achieve.
There’s no arguing that the Millennial generation will lead the way in terms of our use of technology and how we navigate and connect with the world of the future. As fundraisers and marketers, we must be aware of — in tune with — and ready for — how these changes will impact the work we do. 
But do we really know why we want them so badly? 

Because right now, for the most part, they seem to still be figuring out who they are and where they’re headed.  And even though they’re doing it as one large, cohesive group — which might make us feel like we need to have them now — as a whole, they’re not ready to take on the role of sustaining the work we do yet.

What if we just let them take some time to find their place in the world.  And instead, focus on how our organizations can still be around to serve them when they are ready to engage more fully.  

That means placing a laser focus on the people who are most likely to engage with us right now, and over the next 10-15 years.  People who are older than us… people who are finishing their main careers and living all sorts of interesting and different lives. People who have settled their values and are ready to make a larger mark on the world.

It may not feel as intriguing or sexy, but these are the people we need to figure out — even better than we already have. These are the people with the capacity to see our organizations through to the future of the Millennials.