For decades, for-profits and nonprofits have had conflicting goals. The goal of all for-profits has been – of course – to make money. The goal of nonprofits, however, has been to effect change, often with very limited budgets. The founders of nonprofits have also had an uphill battle as the idea of needing “charity” is often considered a weakness in self-sufficient America. Millennials, however, have been raised watching the coke-fueled excesses of the ‘80s, the 70-hour weeks of the ‘90s and their home-ownership dreams go up in smoke with the collapse of the mortgage industry in the 2000s. Millennials have had enough, and they want something more than just a big paycheck. As a result, the gap between for-profit and nonprofit is slowly narrowing.
By 2020, Millennials will be the largest demographic in the workplace, and that gives them a pretty powerful voice. They are also poised to become the most generous generation in history. This is also somewhat shocking considering they are generally saddled with more student loan debt than any other generation in history and have to wait significantly longer to make large purchases like a home or a new car.
In spite of that, however, Millennials don’t just want a big paycheck. They also want to know that the work they do matters and that they are making a difference in the world. This means that they expect even for-profit businesses to have a social mission and aim. Conversely, however, they also place greater expectations on organizations in the non-profit and charitable world to engage in greater transparency and deliver a significant ROI on charitable contributions.
This makes sense when you consider that the average college graduate in 2017 walked out into the world already roughly $40,000 in debt. When you have that much debt but manage to carve out a charitable contribution, you tend to want to know exactly what that money is being used for and that it is being put to good use. This is perhaps why organizations like Charity: Water are thriving, whereas larger, more established non-profits with a history of poor donation management are floundering. In the for-profit world, Millennials just can’t get enough of businesses like Apple and Starbucks that both have strong social missions that prove they aren’t just all about making money.