Why civic engagement matters for companies and nonprofits
(StatePoint) New research reveals that not only has America’s largest generation — millennials — become more civically engaged since the pandemic began, but that the time is right for nonprofits and companies to help all Americans see how profoundly they can influence social change.
The new survey from Points of Light, a nonpartisan, global nonprofit organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes millions of people to take action that changes the world, conducted by INFLUENCE|SG, found that almost 50% of millennials believe in the power of civic engagement more now than before the pandemic, 69% are more likely to volunteer and 85% think people should help their community and the world. Millennials also believe companies should be actively involved in social issues and two-thirds visit corporate websites at least somewhat often to learn about their efforts.
Tapping into the report’s findings can help businesses and nonprofits seeking to prioritize purpose more effectively work with customers and supporters to move the needle on critical issues facing communities today. Here are the three key takeaways for businesses and nonprofits:
• Get personal: In many ways, millennials were the hardest hit by the uncertainty of the pandemic. Those with children suddenly had to teach them at home; some had parents and grandparents who were getting sick and even dying. It’s no surprise that the social issues millennials care about today have gotten personal.
“What we learned from our research is that personal experience is driving the civic issues millennials care about and will act to support, as well as their own desire to make a positive difference in the world,” says Natalye Paquin, president and CEO of Points of Light. “Rather than asking millennials to help you reach a goal, consider asking them what they need and how you can work alongside each other to have the biggest impact.”
• Address what’s important: Respondents said that the top issues the country must address post-pandemic are healthcare (29%), criminal and social justice (24%), education (21%), environment/climate (21%) and financial recovery efforts from COVID-19 (17%.) When it comes to issues of widespread importance, entities seeking to be drivers of change can and should meet the public where they are.
• Discover ways to take action: Civic action can take on many forms, from signing a petition to participating in a rally, to reaching out to one’s political representatives. Not sure where to start? Consider “the Civic Circle,” which is a framework developed by Points of Light to define the many ways people and entities can lead, lend support and take action for causes.
The nine activities outlined by the Civic Circle are: listening and learning, using one’s voice, social entrepreneurship, volunteering, public, national or military service, using one’s purchasing power to express their values, working, voting and donating.
“More than almost any other civic action, respondents today are devoting time to increasing their knowledge about social issues. In other words, they are preparing themselves to be fluent consumers of the information causes and companies intend to share,” says Paquin. “This gives companies opportunities to become vital, trusted sources of information.”
For additional insights and to learn more, visit pointsoflight.org.
“By partnering with them on addressing the issues that matter to them most, nonprofits and businesses can play a vital role in keeping this generation’s attitudes of empathy, interest and willingness to fix society’s ills thriving,” says Paquin.