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Blog: 5 Things To Know About Working With Millennials

Thursday, June 7, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Millennials have been studied, characterized, categorized, described, and debated since the label “Millennial” was created.


I was born among the first of what has since been labeled the Millennial generation.  I remember handwriting papers in cursive for school and doing research in the library. I also remember my family getting its first computer and later signing up for my own email address. I received my first cell phone when I left home for college and joined Facebook when it was still in beta testing (At the time, I thought it would never take off!). I took my SATs on a scan-tron card to get into college. Four years later I took the GRE on a computer. I worked my way up from the file room of a law firm to an office, then started all over at a nonprofit.


I realize that my experience is not inclusive of all those around my age, but I have a few generalizations of my own that I would like to share on behalf of those who perhaps can relate.



1. We don’t like being defined as Millennials.


We don’t all identify with the trappings of this moniker. Think about how quickly technology changed during the years widely defined as the millennial generation, approximately 1982-2004. Those of us born in the 1980s had very different experiences than those born later who have never known what it was like before everyone had a computer in their home and a connection to the internet. The stereotypical behaviors and assumptions placed on us by others have become a nuisance in some instances and a burden in others. This is especially true when it comes to the assumptions our employers sometimes make of us in the work place. We have been labeled as entitled, complacent, addicted to technology and unequipped to take on leadership roles.


Just as we don’t want to pigeon hole our donor prospects, allowing our fixed assumptions of them to dictate the way that we interact with them, we should avoid doing the same when dealing with Millennial employees (or any employees, for that matter).


This brings me to my next point…



2. We are willing to “pay our dues.”


What we are not willing to do is work for years in a position that offers little pay and no opportunities for advancement… We want to receive consistent feedback and be rewarded based on our accomplishments, not necessarily the amount of time we have put in to working at the bottom of the ladder. Millennials often have great work ethics.


So, if we are consistently exceeding our fundraising goals and/or innovating the work of the organization in other ways, please consider us when new positions open up rather than looking outside the organization for someone with a longer work history.



3. We like flexibility.


Whether it’s when we work, how we work or where we work, technology and the global economy have afforded us all the option of working outside of the traditional 9 to 5 office model. Although everyone finds salary to be highly motivating, we will often be willing to sacrifice it in exchange for a balance between work and our personal lives that allows us to achieve what we want outside of our careers, too.


Fundraising requires flexibility at all levels so that we can meet donors where they are and engage them with our organizations in ways that are meaningful to them. Depending on the work your organization does, this may not fit the traditional office work model, so why try to force it? Trust your employees to be productive without these strict parameters and you may be pleasantly surprised at how well they deliver.



4. We know how to use technology – take advantage of that!


We know you’re not as comfortable with your smartphone or the internet and that’s ok.


Allow us to help you navigate these things so that your organization does not fall behind the times (again, see my second point). Ever done a Giving Day on an online platform? Had a text-to-give option at your last event? Kept your donors informed via social media? We can help you with that!



5. We have good ideas – take advantage of that, too!!


Beyond technology, we bring varied life experiences to the table.


Sometimes it is the fresh new ideas uninformed by past organizational history that end up being the best. Let us have a seat at the table and we will not disappoint.



I have been extremely fortunate in my career and have always had employers who, by and large, knew these things already. Having experienced these things in other parts of my life and seeing the struggle of others my age in their places of work convinced me that this conversation is still worth having. At the end of the day, your Millennial employees and co-workers are the same as all of your other employees and co-workers. Give us the tools and opportunities we need to shine and we will.



 Meet The Blog Author

Rebecca Lamb, CFRE

Director of Major Gifts
Planned Parenthood
Gulf Coast

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