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There’s much that’s been said and written about millenials – that demographic cohort that followed Generation X and has been roughly defined as being born sometime from the 1980s to the 2000s – but what is incontrovertible is that they are the next biggest market for any business, nonprofit organization, or social enterprise. Which is where Deloitte’s Millenial Surveys come in useful. And what’s interesting is that the surveys indicate that the vast majority of millenials want business success to be defined by more than just profits – instead, they want it defined by values and by social impact.

Most organizations these days are spending quite a bit of time thinking about millenials – whether or not they know it. They may be thinking about the next generation of clients who will use their services, or the next generation of people that they’ll be able to build powerful advocacy and fundraising campaigns with. They may be thinking about the next generation of their core staff, or even their leadership.

Increasingly, nonprofits, social enterprises, and social impact businesses are also wondering what they can do about millenials – how to get their message out to this new demographic, and how to build positive and productive relationships with them. Indeed, some really huge companies are spending millions of dollars doing this – with market research consultants, demographic experts, study panels, focus groups, and so much more.

There’s a reason for this: millenials are the next big demographic. If you are building out a fundraising campaign, you want to be in alignment with this generation. They’re between 18-30 now, that magic target demographic that retailers target, that advertisers target, and that will become increasingly important in terms of organizational success. Think about your organization: if you could tap into the most significant portion of your audience, what kind of success strategies could you create? Even more importantly, imagine what would happen if you can’t tap into the next biggest demographic that your organization will be dealing with. What would happen then? This question is why the big marketers are spending millions on understanding millenials.

But here’s the good news: as a social impact organization, you’re already somewhere that a lot of other organizations want to be: in alignment with the millenials. While you may not know it, you already understand them to a large degree. Why? Because you believe in values.

Deloitte’s 2016 Millenial Survey provides a lot of really interesting information. First up is that a whopping 87% want business success – in general, not just social enterprise success – to be defined by more than just profits. Immediately, as a social enterprise or nonprofit organization, you’re ahead of the game, because your organization’s success is defined by something more than just profits.

Okay. So millenials don’t think that business success should be defined by profits – what do they want to see? This is where it gets interesting. Deloitte’s survey provides some insight on how millenials judge business success:

A full 26% of respondents want business success to be judged partially by how they treat their employees. Speaks to my earlier piece that suggests your employees could be your best brand advocates. Millenials believe this because they’re entering the employment market – and they judge their employers’ success based on how they’re treated. It’s something that transfers well.

Another 25% of respondents indicate that ethics, trust, honesty, and integrity should be key measurables of business success. This is also crucial – it’s hard to paint a picture of a successful social enterprise without being ethical and trustworthy. Again, this should be a reason why you, as a social enterprise, are already ahead of the game.

Interestingly, “good products” only merits 7% of the attention.

Your lessons from this survey? Your next biggest demographic is one that wants to see more than just a focus on profits. They want to see your success in defining other kinds of success, especially social impact. In fact, all of these dimensions of success are markers of social impact.

The next trick is for your organizations to live up to what millenials want, and tell the story of how you do. Get in touch if you want some support in making that happen.

About Kevin Harding

Kevin Harding is a principal of the Incipe Cooperative, and is a volunteer board member of the Art for Impact Society. He has worked in the nonprofit, public, and cooperative sector for some time, and has a passion for working with coops, nonprofits, and advocacy groups that want to make a better world. A coop developer, he strongly believes that cooperatives can build a better world.

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