Allison Fine has written a discussion paper for the Social Citizens site about the impact of Millenials on social engagement with causes. It’s a good rundown of Millenial values and approaches to doing cause-related activities with components of idealism, digital fluency, and a collaborative approach to involvement.
But what’s interesting from my perspective–ie, someone who’s had a long career in a major traditional volunteer agency–is the lack of enthusiasm for institutions. Not impressed. One of the sections of the discussion paper is titled: “Can institutions survive? Should they survive?” Allison says:
In their professional lives, Millennials are wary of institutions, even when they run them. They crave genuine relations, and can instinctively sense when they aren’t there. How will this influence the current and future development of institutions?…Millennials value peer relationships over institutional loyalty. This has profound implications for activist organizations accustomed to support from their donors over long periods of time….Institutions are necessary to offer expertise, focus efforts, provide institutional memory for communities, and lead issues. But they will need to look, feel, and actually be quite different to successfully engage Millennials. That said, simply changing how they operate does not provide carte blanche for institutions to outlive their usefulness.
I raised this issue in the video “2.0 Attitude!” There are many elements of the authority and expertise system of the 20th Century that are open to challenge by Millenials. Personally, I think the questioning should be the basis for some refreshing discussion.