Giving Back: Lessons from Millennials

lightbulb_services_newerSo much for the negative stereotypes that those born between 1980 and 2000 are narcissistic and selfish. Lately Millennials have been busy turning their ideas about generativity into action. Although many are still laboring under high levels of student loan debt, navigating a tough job market and living with parents while getting on their feet, they’re also giving money and time to causes that matter to them.

Money is but one venue for generosity. Kindness is an even more valuable currency. Alan Cohen, author

Data from the 2015 Millennial Impact Project indicates that Millennials are the most charitable generation. They’re purpose driven and want their voices heard in the workplace. And companies are beginning to make adjustments – listening to what Millennials are passionate about, accepting their input on charitable agendas, scheduling time for hands-on volunteer work.

In the spirit of giving back, we can take a lesson from the Millennials about contributing to greater good:

Give to a worthy cause. You can take books to a residential care home and read to the children. Help cook dinners at a local shelter or buy meals for the needy and eat together. Do research on local charities and make a donation to a different one each month.

Give of yourself. Cook a favorite meal for a friend who’s depressed. Offer to babysit so parents who are stressed can enjoy a date night. Write an old friend and reconnect, with a promise to keep in touch. Or drive an elderly neighbor to their doctor’s appointment.

Give emotional connection. As charity begins at home, put heart in what you do. Plan a weekend adventure of family togetherness. Take your parents to the movies every week. Surprise your partner by arranging a romantic dinner out.

Attention is the purest form of generosity. Simone Weil, philosopher

Millennials were born with technology in mind and are the first generation to grow up alongside corporate social responsibility. As digital natives with a firm grasp of social media and enthusiasm for collaborative settings, they have the power to champion causes and to shape trends.

Here’s an inspirational video that personifies what can happen when idealistic Millennials  come together with the support of corporations, nonprofit organizations and the government. Their agendas include social action and national service. And they’re building personal engagement, trust and lifelong skills while planning to change the world.

It’s ironic that, with their humanitarian values, the generation most associated with negativity is influencing positive change. Connecting through helping others strengthens and enriches everyone. And in these challenging times, that’s a good lesson for all of us.

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