Young professionals have a bad rap. “Generation Me,” spoiled, lazy…the list of adjectives used to describe us goes on. Made up primarily of a generation saddled with college-debt and that entered the workforce during the Great Recession, the truth is that many young professionals are contributing their time and money to nonprofits. According to the Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of young professionals made a charitable donation in 2014 (average of $481) and 70 percent donated at least an hour of their time.
In addition to helping your community, furthering your cause and changing the world, donating your time and expertise to your favorite cause will likely lead to a more successful, healthy life for you as an individual. I can personally attest to these benefits and know many others who can as well. If you’re in the minority of “non-givers” or are looking for how to get more involved, read on:
We’ve all heard the advice, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” For many young professionals, that’s easier said than done. However, contributing your time to a cause you are passionate about may ease the stress of your “paying job,” could provide the motivation you need at work and could even kick start your career in a way you had never imagined.
Looking to develop the personal and professional inner circles of your network? Still searching for a mentor? Giving your time and expertise to a cause you love will introduce you to like-minded individuals with whom you will form close relationships that will not only expand, but also strengthen your squad network.
A study by Volunteer Australia found that “82 percent of volunteers were delighted, pleased or mostly satisfied with their lives, compared to 75 percent of non-volunteers.”It should not be a surprise that being part of something you love, sharing time with others who share your passion and contributing to the common good improves your physical and mental health.
Boss not trusting you with the multi-million dollar account? Is your lack of experience holding you back? Many nonprofits are stretched too thin, so convincing them to let you help may be much easier than convincing your boss. Show the world what you’re capable of while supporting a cause you love. (Not to mention it looks great on a resume!)
Several studies show that Millennials, more so than other generations, are influenced by transparency within nonprofits and want to be able to see the results of their donations. What better way to ensure transparency and results than to be part of the solution? When you find a cause you are passionate about, get involved and be the leader that brings more young professionals to the party.
Ways to Get Involved
Get to know some nonprofits that share your passion and find out how you can help them. Some may need volunteers for their events or help fundraising; some may need skilled assistance (marketing, IT, etc.), and others may just need you to advocate for them. Board positions are another way to volunteer, but be patient as it typically takes time to develop the necessary relationship before you are invited. Start by demonstrating your commitment to the cause, following through and getting to know their leadership. And fair warning: if a board position is your goal, keep in mind that many (but not all) expect significant financial and/or fundraising commitments.
Now get out there, find a cause you are passionate about, and get involved! It’s a win-win for you and the community!
Matthew Bridge has spent the last 15 years with nonprofits. He currently volunteers on the Leadership Council with the Ignite Young Professionals and as President of the Friends of the Roseville Public Library, and supports several local nonprofits supporting his favorite cause—children!