A recent American Psychological Association study found that Millennials focus more on money and fame rather than positively contributing to their communities. Jean Twenge, the lead author of the study, concluded that “popular views of the Millennial generation, born in the 1980s and 1990s, as more caring, community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations are largely incorrect.”
According to the study, concern for others and interest in helping the environment have largely declined since the Baby Boomer Generation. Perhaps these findings have a legitimate base, perhaps not. At the very least, it looks like Millennials will have to do more to prove to the world that our generation is capable of creating meaningful change and that young adults are just as dedicated to vitally important causes as past generations. By investing in impactful charities from a young age, this generation can begin to build for the future. One particularly useful tool for Millennial Philanthropy is Charity Navigator.
CharityNavigator.org takes away the risk of donating to a charity only to find the money misspent on various “administrative costs.” By giving out free charity ratings and detailing the spending habits of almost all charities out there, Charity Navigator is a great tool when researching potential organizations to invest time and money into. One con of donating without doing a background check on charities is losing faith in giving back to the collective community and completely abandoning the concept of charity, choosing to spend money in a way that benefits the individual instead of helping those who can’t help themselves.
Taking on this state of mind can have decapitating consequences, resulting in the gradual degradation of the community due to the perceived selfishness of the current generation. Dr. Twenge’s conclusions put civically active Millennials in a corner with many attending college on scholarships and student loans and not much money to spare. Understandably, this puts many Millennials at a disadvantage when it comes to available money to donate to causes outside of their immediate control. Yet that shouldn’t limit a Millennial’s ability to contribute to the community. Volunteering time and chipping in a few dollars a month to your local charity sounds more doable than saving the world with one fell swoop, am I right?
Dr. Jean Twenge claims that Millennials are more focused on fame and money than anything else, that giving back to our communities and helping the environment is the last thing on our minds. In a technology ruled era such as ours, becoming dedicated to a cause is simultaneously made all the easier and all the more difficult. YouTube and the global media make witnessing the problems plaguing the planet as they happen possible. But the sensationalism of these issues doesn’t allow young adults to make the necessary commitment and instead use the viral quality of the cause (i.e. Kony 2012) as an excuse to abandon it. Millennials must prove individuals like Dr. Twenge wrong before the masses become convinced that they are leaving the future of the United States in the wrong hands.
Haley Samsel is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. She is a high school freshman in Plano, Texas where she is involved with Partner’s PE, a program that allows students to help special needs kids to earn their PE credit while making friends and gaining confidence in themselves.
Megan Emme is the New Media Coordinator at Mobilize.org and runs their blogging program, The Millennial Report. Megan is a Junior at San Francisco State University and also works as the SF Regional Coordinator for the Revolution Hunger Campaign. She hopes to pursue a career empowering young people to advocate for themselves as well as make a difference in their communities.