Hiring Civic-Minded Millennials

Original Article

Young Americans are getting involved in their communities in new ways. They join Giving Circles, participate in crowd funding campaigns, and use social media for good. They are also getting involved in philanthropy and service through their workplaces. A new study shows that millennials value employers that encourage volunteerism and giving.

With funding from the Case Foundation, the research group Achieve surveyed 1,514 employees of more than 300 companies who were born after 1979 to find out how millennials express their commitments to the community through their work. Entitled the “Millennial Impact Report,” the study examines how young employees get involved with corporate social responsibility initiatives or “cause work.”

Previous Millennial Impact Reports, from 2010 through 2013, focused on the ways that millennials volunteer and give. In my summary of the 2013 report, I highlighted millennials’ preference for causes over specific organizations, their interest in donating via the internet, and their desire to get more involved in fundraising activities and nonprofit boards.

According to the 2014 report, most millennial employees (63 percent) do not consider an employer’s community engagement as a factor in their initial job search. Of course, not all young job applicants are actively engaged in their community to begin with. But most of those job applicants who already volunteer or give in their community do consider corporate social responsibility efforts when they are applying. And of young employees who learned about a company’s corporate social responsibility during the interview process, 55 percent said that this made them more likely to accept a job offer.

“If a company wants to recruit and hire a talented, civic-minded Millennial, company-sponsored cause work is an important selling point,” says the report.

Eighty-seven percent of young employees who participated in the survey said that they feel encouragement from their employer to take part in cause work. Survey respondents said that the form of employer cause work in which they are most often encouraged to participate is fundraising campaigns—45 percent of employees between 25 and 30, and 57 percent of millennials over 30 had actually participated in fund drives—but most said that they prefer company volunteer projects to fund drives.

When millennial employees get involved in service projects, they like to do so with co-workers; 77 percent said they prefer group service projects to independent volunteer work. The relational experience of volunteering with co-workers is not insignificant to an employee’s decision to remain with a company. Respondents listed relationships with co-workers as second only to employer recognition of their passions and talents as a factor in employee retention.

Of the millennial employees surveyed, 87 percent donated to at least one nonprofit organization in 2013; this increased to 91 percent for millennials over the age of 30 and 92 percent for those who had been with a company for five years or more. Eighty-two percent of young donors gave at least $50, 28 percent gave between $100 and $500, and 12 percent gave over $1,000.

Millennials also spend a lot of time volunteering. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed had volunteered for a charity or cause in the past month. Forty-four percent had used their particular skills in service to a charity or cause at some point, and of these volunteers, 94 percent said they liked to serve in this way. Forty-four percent had been involved in a corporate department or section volunteer activity. Furthermore, 47 percent had taken part in company-sponsored days of service, and of these participants, 87 percent said that it had been an enjoyable experience. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said that they would appreciate more days of service sponsored by their companies.

Millennials take into consideration a broader array of options for giving and volunteering than previous generations. They view their social network as an asset that can be used for good. “A Millennial may see Tweeting about a cause as a way of giving resources, because they are donating their network,” says the report.

Today, young people are seeking opportunities to serve their communities through their employer, with co-workers, and using the skills they’ve developed on the job. They are finding ways to donate online, to give their hours in service to charity, and to get their friends involved through social media. Philanthropy and volunteerism may look different today than it did in the past, but today’s young professionals remain determined to make a difference in their communities.


Hans Zeiger leads the Chapman Center for Civic Leadership at Discovery Institute.

Hans Zeiger

Director, Chapman Center for Civic Leadership
Hans Zeiger served as the director of the Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership, leading the Chapman Fellows program. He serves in the Washington State Senate, representing the 25th Legislative District, covering central Pierce County. Hans was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2010 and reelected in 2012 and 2014, representing the 25th Legislative District. Hans was recognized as the co-recipient of the Gabrielle Giffords Award for Civility, he serves in the Washington Air National Guard, sits on the boards of the Washington State Historical Society, the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, and was a 2017 Leadership Fellow of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and a 2018 Rodel Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Hans graduated from Puyallup High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College and a Masters degree in Public Policy from Pepperdine University.