Civic generation’ gains clout

By Todd Cohen

Young people are becoming a powerful force in America, and organizations doing business in the charitable marketplace need to engage and pay attention to them.

In 2005, just over 30 percent of college students volunteered, exceeding the volunteer rate of nearly 29 percent for the entire population, says a new study by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The 3.3 million college students who volunteered, up 300,000 from 2002, are part of the “millennial” generation, or the 78 million Americans born between 1979 and 2001.

Another study, by Cone Inc. in Boston, says that generation feels personally responsible for improving the world, with 78 percent believing companies have a responsibility to help them pursue that goal.

And the generation says it is prepared to reward or punish a company based on its commitment to social causes, Cone says.

Yet another study, by Harris Interactive, says teens are mixed about the political process and down on politicians but see the importance of political engagement and voting.

To diversify their support and secure the resources they need to improve the way they do business, nonprofits must engage young people and partner with companies that care about the millennial market.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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