If I were to have one dream I'd like to see come true for the nonprofit sector this year, it would be that the Millennial leadership breakthrough happens. We've been hearing about it for years (I've been talking about it for a while). Generation Y (also known as Millennials) have been eager and willing to support social causes like never before. Up until now, that support has looked like participation - attending events, buycotting, using social media to raise awareness, and making charity sexy. But this year, I have a dream that Millennial leadership will turn the corner in the world of nonprofits.
Generation Y is ready. The oldest of this subset turns 32 this year (give or take). Countless others are in their mid- to late-twenties and have several years (some, a decade or more) in the nonprofit industry. They've learned the ropes, paid their dues (even though this generation isn't big on that), been around the block, and are ready to take the lead. As the economy improves and many Boomers finally follow up on those retirement plans they made back in 2007, Millennials have a key opportunity to take the reigns and create meaningful impact.
But, this leadership will look a bit different than it has for previous generations (Silent, Baby Boomers, X). And this is why it will be a dream to see. Much like Trista Harris envisions, I see Generation's Y leadership style as an asset to the nonprofit world. Here's why:
Generation Y is team driven
Having played soccer en masse, gone to the prom as a group, and even completed science fair projects as a team, Millennials understand what working together looks like. This generation was over-programmed with group activities from scouts to team sports to dance classes and years of being around others has made them adept at realizing how much can be accomplished when alliances are built. This will manifest itself in even more nonprofit mergers and new alliances being formed.
Generation Y can spread the word
Size will matter less when Generation Y is in charge. Small organizations will be able to reach more people than ever before with their message as Millennials leverage personal and social networks to ask for money, collect signatures, and rally support. New nonprofits will emerge and grow quickly (before, perhaps, merging with an existing entity). But, young people won't need to spend marketing money the same ways it has been spent in the past. Innovation in communication will happen quickly.
Generation Y will redefine the meaning of time
Any notion of work/life balance is lost on this generation. When you can answer emails from the beach and accomplish more out of the office, who needs a 9-to-5? This generation will approach global issues as projects to be completed rather than problems to be worked on for a lifetime. Having never known life without a microwave oven, Millennials want to see quick results and will put in hard work to achieve them. But, if they can cut out commutes, needless meetings, and even office spaces, they will. Millennial leaders work hard, but they work differently. Just look at this graph of priorities. If they need to pick their kids up from school later today, they'll be out of the office doing that. But don't worry - they'll get back to your email while waiting in the carpool line.
What are your big dreams for the nonprofit sector in 2012?
Leave your hopes in the comments below.
This post was inspired by this month's Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants.