Why MCON is THE Must Attend Conference on Millennial Engagement

With just a few weeks left until the sixth annual MCON hits Washington, DC, the Case Foundation and Achieve teams are buzzing with excitement. This year’s gathering is gearing up to be the most impressive yet, uniting nearly 600 cause champions committed to creating change and turning next gen interest into action. With 25 different sessions, more than 45 remarkable speakers, a political town hall, film screenings, parties and a host of networking opportunities over the course of three days, MCON is where social sector leaders unite to mobilize movements. But don’t just take our word for it… here’s a sneak peak at what’s in store and why MCON is the top next gen engagement gathering of the year.

  • A dynamic slate of speakers will take the stage, including our own Jean Case, Gary Knell of National Geographic, Gina Bianchini of Mightybell, Ettore Rossetti of Save the Children, Jeremy Ford of Dell Giving, Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, National Geographci Explorers Erin Spencer and Sylvia Earle, Chris Temple of Living On One, Laurindo Garcia of B-Change, DeRay Mckesson, Kevin Cleary of Clif Bar, Brian Ferguson of the DC Office of Human Rights, Karla Monterroso of CODE2040, Jay Newton-Small of TIME Magazine, restaurateur Jose Andres, Ryan Scott of Causecast, Janine Gianfredi of the U.S. Digital Service, Jesse Moore from the White House, Grammy nominated recording artist Ryan Leslie and many more still to be announced!
  • Enjoy VIP access to National Geographic’s campus in the heart of downtown DC. National Geographic, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world, has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888 through geography, archaeology and natural science and the promotion of environmental and historical conservation. While there, attendees can check out the latest exhibitions, interactive experiences and stunning photography exhibitions featuring the work of National Geographic explorers, photographers and scientists.
  • Laugh out loud with Funny or Die creators David Litt and Brad Jenkins during their Politics and Humor panel.
  • Tune in to the Political Townhall hosted by the Washington Post to hear from Millennials in government. MCON is partnering with The Washington Post to present an interactive panel discussion on issues that affect the Millennial generation, how political engagement is changing, innovation in the public sector and how to increase Millennial voter turnout.
  • We know you will be hungry over the three days so we’ve partnered with some of the best fast-casual restaurants to keep your bellies full and brain on point. Guests will munch on fare from STK, &Pizza, Shake Shack, Taylor Gourmet and many more throughout the three days.
  • Watch the film screening of “Most Likely To Succeed” the new documentary film on the impact that innovation is having on our economy and the consequences for our country if our education system fails to keep pace. WATCH THE TRAILER
  • Check out the late night Bloc Party on Day Three and closing night celebration in the outdoor courtyard of National Geographic featuring local food trucks, drinks and a surprise live act!
  • Pack your running shoes for a run with Kevin Cleary of Clif Bar & Company, a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drinks for people on the go. Meet Kevin for a morning run on Day Three, then catch him on stage later that day as he shares how to build a sustainable brand.
  • Experience a taste of Spain on Day Two at an after party hosted by NYLON and Rock the Vote, with a special guest performance, at the SPAIN Arts & Culture Center featuring the most cutting-edge works of international renowned Spanish artists of our time.
  • Watch the private screening of “Salam Neighbor,” an award-winning feature documentary. As the first filmmakers ever allowed by the United Nations to be given a tent and registered inside a refugee camp, they provide viewers with a never seen look into one of the world’s most pressing crisises. WATCH THE TRAILER
  • Take a break in the MCON Lounge on site at National Geographic and network with other cause enthusiasts who will help you take your initiative to the next level.
  • Enjoy one of the many libations keeping you hydrated throughout the festival including drinks from Boxed Water, Owl’s Brew, Denizens, One Hope Wines, Peet’s Coffee, Heritage Distilling, Port City Brewing and Flying Dog Brewery.
  • Step into the opening night party at Renwick Gallery just across the street from the White House, sponsored by the Case Foundation. The Renwick is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection and has one of the finest and most extensive collections of its kind.
  • Be one of the first to read the 2016  Action Report released on Day One. Learn about how politics may influence next gen engagement with social causes in this exciting new survey.
  • Attend for free! Yes, free. Are you a student, activist or social entrepreneur that could really benefit from a conference like MCON but you can’t seem to fit it in your budget? Apply for an MCON 2016 scholarship while they’re still available HERE.

Can’t make it to MCON this year? Don’t worry. You can check out the livestream throughout all three days and join the conversation online using #MCON. We can’t wait to have you join us!

5 Tips for Attracting (and Keeping) Millennial Employees

Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and represent more than one in three workers according to Pew Research Center. And while this generation is growing in size, influence and power within the workplace, many employers, managers and HR departments still find it difficult to recruit and retain next gen talent.

For many leaders at organizations around the country, the challenge is in more effectively engaging Millennial employees and in understanding that their passions, interests and ideas are part of their identity—not just at home or with friends, but also at the office. Through the Millennial Impact Project, we have learned that one key way employers can tap into those interests is by integrating them into the organization’s cause- and service-related issues and projects, which resonate well with this generation. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report, which focused primarily on Millennials’ preferences in the workplace, identified the linkage between a company’s cause-related efforts and the interest of and desire by their Millennial employees to engage in those efforts as part of their employment.

In the newly released report by Achieve titled, “Cause, Influence & the Next Generation Workforce – Six-Month Research Update,” researchers built upon their 2014 and 2015 surveys of Millennials and engagement in the workplace and looked specifically at data on company size and cause work programs as a means to foster workplace engagement. Researchers wanted to know in this six-month update: how participation in company cause work programs are influenced by the existing and structuring of such programs; why companies should consider incorporating cause work initiatives earlier in an employee’s tenure; and the importance of companies preventing participation fatigue. (Note: Reports referenced above are sponsored by the Case Foundation.)

My big takeaway for organizations interested in deeper engagement is that offering service opportunities alone is not enough. Organizations that take their engagement a step further and tailor those opportunities with and for next gen employees are more successful at engaging Millennial employees over the long term.

Based on the findings of this research, here are five practical tips that any team manager or leader who wants to better engage their next gen employees can put into practice—today:

Tip #1: Companies should look to establish service initiatives and volunteer opportunities for Millennial employees—not only to be a socially responsible company, but also to foster a service oriented culture that can align with the employees’ passions and will ultimately help to retain Millennial employees and managers.

Tip #2: Executives and managers should make sure to promote the service-related opportunities and foster awareness about those programs available. This will help to ensure that Millennial employees have the opportunity to be fully engaged.

Tip #3: Consider offering incentives to those who participate in the service-related programs. Make sure that they are incentives that would be appreciated by the employees and managers alike, and are aligned with the service opportunity (e.g., time allowances for staff to volunteer with an organization of their choice).

Tip #4: Consult team members at all professional levels to ensure that the organization’s engagement strategies and offerings resonate with the next gen employees. Suggesting employees donate to an organization selected by the company—without input from the staff—could likely result in disinterested participation and lackluster support from next gen team members.

Tip #5: Engage with employees and involve them early on during their careers with your organization (e.g., orientation or within the first few months). When leaders did not engage employees early on, it often took one to two years for employees to become involved with cause related activities led by the employer.

And finally, as noted in the report: “To truly engage—and retain—their Millennial employees and managers in cause work initiatives for years to come, employers must take the time to learn about what causes employees value, how they want to make an impact, what influences them and what challenges them to continue participating.”

Do you have a tip for how to attract and retain Millennial talent through service related activities? Share it with us on Twitter using @CaseFoundation and #Millennials.

My (too) Close Encounter With Virtual Reality and How it Sparked Imagining VR for Good

In the spirit of learning, one of our staff ordered a Google Cardboard virtual reality (VR) viewer and brought it to a recent staff meeting for us to experience. The story we were watching to test out this new technology was The New York Times’ groundbreaking three-part series on the plight of refugee children, a series that I had previously read about, but had not yet had the chance to view. In “The Displaced,” viewers follow along on the harrowing journey of Chuol, a South Sudanese boy (only two years older than my eldest child).

In my excitement to try out this storytelling tech, I threw my hand up like an enthusiastic fifth grader would. My colleague reached across the conference room table to double check that I was holding the iPhone and VR goggles correctly as I adjusted the headphones and hit play. Immediately I was walking through a room, presumably an intro to the NYT VR series. I looked all around amazed that it really did feel like I was in that room, then the article title came up and I was thrust into Chuol’s story. It felt like I was really there, floating in a roughhewn wooden boat in the middle of a swamp under cloudy skies, and it suddenly hit me that I knew what the surrounding reeds were hiding: women and children in flight from unspeakable atrocities.

My pulse soared, my breath grew instantly shallow, my eyes burned and I began to sob. The virtual reality of Chuol’s actual reality was so vivid that it overwhelmed me. I pulled off the headphones and apologized through tears to my coworkers, some of whom had been trying to capture a fun video to share about our first collective experience with VR. Instead I’m sure they recorded my face unfolding in horror of what I knew lay ahead for that little boy.

It was too close for comfort, but maybe that was the point. My head and my heart were already hooked by the story that had received widespread coverage in the days leading up to this experience and the VR experience sealed it inextricably. I’ll never forget that moment of “seeing” through Chuol’s eyes. Short of a plane ticket and dropping into a conflict zone, the experience could not have been more authentic.

Marketers of all stripes will undoubtedly tap into this possibility of authenticity to attract, engage and retain their target audiences. But my hope is that we will also see VR storytelling as a method to win hearts and minds for good.

The 2013 Millennial Impact Research report found that 70 percent of Millennials are willing to raise money for causes they care about. What better way to capture a broader group of donors than to let them have a virtual experience around a cause? Potential donors could “explore” a pristine marine reserve before it has been destroyed to understand why it matters. “Listening in” on a prognosis meeting for a cancer patient might help articulate the intricacies of fighting that disease. Perhaps hearing a VR testimonial of a client that benefitted from post-incarceration training to land a new job might convey the need to support an effort typically difficult to fund.

Likewise, given the ubiquity of mobile technology around the globe and the exquisite simplicity and lower cost of a cardboard viewer (as one of many VR methods), imagine the possibilities for good beyond donations of money. A business owner in an emerging market could virtually walk the storeroom floor and peer around the globe to get some ideas on how to improve sales rather than examining floor plans; a student could augment their studies of ancient societies by “traipsing” along timeworn streets without needing to afford overseas studies; a homebound person could “climb” treacherous trails to visit impossibly constructed temples on mountain ridges. By using VR, people’s lives could be enriched by having access to knowledge and experience that was previously out of reach.

My incredibly visceral and brief experience with VR was more than enough to convince me of the power of this technology as it begins to enjoy widespread use. I can’t wait to see what the clever do-gooders of the world do next with this medium. Though, next time I strap on a VR viewer I might choose a less heartrending topic.

Interested in using #VR4Good? Share your ideas for this emerging technology with us on Twitter.

Header photo credit: Flickr user Nan Palmero, used via Creative Commons.

Business as a Force for Social Good

This post was written by J.D. Brady on behalf of the Case Foundation:

At the Case Foundation, we believe impact investing is an excellent example of how business and philanthropy can work hand-in-hand to drive social change. We applaud the work of for-profit enterprises that deliver both a financial and social return, and we encourage investors to support the growth of these companies.

J.P. Morgan’s Nicholas Tedesco is doing just that–creating a bridge between for-profit and non-profit worlds. He joined us at MCON 2015—our annual event that brings together thought leaders from across sectors to explore new ideas regarding engagement with the Millennial generation. As a Senior Philanthropic Advisor in the J.P. Morgan Philanthropy Centre, Nicholas helps clients achieve their philanthropic goals. Before joining J.P. Morgan, Nicholas was with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In that role, Nicholas helped launch the Giving Pledge, an undertaking that encourages the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropic endeavors. To date, nearly 200 philanthropists have signed the pledge.

The Case Foundation sat down with Nicholas to discuss the Millennial generation’s approach to investing, where the impact investing sector is headed and what challenges leaders in the philanthropic space.

CF: How do you see Millennials engaging in philanthropy?

NT: It has been widely talked about that we are in the midst of the greatest wealth transfer in history–-the next generation will inherit an estimated $59 trillion over the next 40 years and are positioned to be some of the most influential donors in history. We are seeing some interesting trends among Millennials with respect to their giving. It is starting earlier: wealth is being made at a much earlier age and on a much larger scale than ever before. And people are looking to give back much earlier. They are taking a venture approach–-they are looking to address large-scale social problems with a more hands-on and results-oriented approach. They are also willing to experiment and test new approaches and are more apt to employ nontraditional methods like impact investing.

CF: What is the most interesting thing that you’ve seen in the last year regarding impact investing?

NT: One of the most interesting things I have seen in the last year is the rise in popularity of social impact bonds. Although they are still largely in their infancy, social impact bonds are gaining traction. Utah is spearheading a program that will bring a lot of attention to the “pay for success” model, as are California and Oregon. Although the model will likely never be widely adopted due to its reliance on the government, it is shedding light on the importance of impact metrics.

CF: Is the impact investing movement growing? Do you think we’re at a tipping point?

NT: I absolutely believe that the impact investing movement is growing–-particularly on the west coast. Its core tenants appeal to younger donors who are eager to tackle longstanding social issues with a multipronged approach. We are also seeing an increased awareness among the business community that social and economic returns do not have to be mutually exclusive and decoupled. I do not think we are at a tipping point (yet). We need a few more years to allow more deals to surface, investments to mature, and thought leaders (like Jean and Steve Case) to inform the general public. Impact investing is still a largely unknown and young movement and people are reluctant to be a pioneer.

CF: What are the greatest challenges philanthropic leaders are addressing today?

NT: One of the greatest challenges philanthropy–-as a discipline–-is facing is how to define and measure impact. Americans gave a record $335 billion to charitable causes in 2013, yet it is hard to quantify the impact of those gifts. There are very few philanthropists who are equipped to adequately assess the yield of their grants–-with a large number of donors simply trusting their grantees to execute a successful strategy. However, we are seeing an increased focus on measurement and evaluation from philanthropists at all levels, and as a result, we are seeing donors who are much more engaged with the organizations that they choose to fund.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts featuring speakers from MCON 2015. Check back to learn about more innovators and leaders from the private, nonprofit and public sectors. Also, be sure to check out the 2015 Millennial Impact Report

The Power of Influence: Get Ready for MCON 2015

This post was written by Derrick Feldmann on behalf of the Case Foundation:

In 2010, Achieve and the Case Foundation began an effort to understand the dynamics between organizations and a new generation of donors and activists. Together, we established the Millennial Impact Project to fill a knowledge gap that existed in the field: How does the Millennial generation connect, involve and support causes?

This research has helped thousands of organizations and companies reach and activate this generation of do-gooders, but we didn’t want our findings to stay just on paper; we wanted to cultivate a learning experience. That is why we launched MCON in 2012, and it has since grown into the nation’s premier conference on the movements that are improving our world and how the next generation is shaping the work we do in communities across the country.

Year after year, MCON proves to be an unforgettable experience for every online and in-person attendee. Participants come from across the country to discover how the next generation is influencing their world and the way they operate within it. MCON provides the foundation for understanding today’s cause movements and how to move interest in a cause into action for a cause.

In that spirit, MCON 2015 will focus on the concept of influence. Specifically, we will explore the power of influence through “art, media business and place.” In today’s super connected world, we are constantly being influenced to act. This year, we want to understand how these four industries influence people to ‘do good’ and act on behalf of an issue. We will discuss ways to bring people together, activate the next generation and create company and organizational cultures that establish openness, accessibility and transparency.

To help the audience understand the power of influence, we’re gathering an incredible lineup of entrepreneurs, activists, artists and visionaries who are influencing others to ‘do good’.

Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND Snacks, will headline the first night of this two-day conference. Daniel is a pioneering social entrepreneur known in the international community for developing business models that integrate social objectives with sustainable market-driven forces. He founded KIND Healthy Snacks in 2004 with the mission of making the world a little kinder, one snack and act at a time. Today, KIND is available at more than 150,000 retailers and is the fastest-growing snack company in the U.S., and the KIND Movement has inspired nearly a million acts of kindness among its community.

In the art section, we’re highlighting designers and artists whose projects have increased awareness and inspired change. Sarah Urist Green is the creator and curator of The Art Assignment, an educational video series produced by PBS Digital Studios that introduces us to the most innovative minds in art today, practicing alternative approaches to art-making. Designer Stephen Kenn will also present on some of the ideas and works that have made him one of the most sought-after artists of our time.

This year, MCON also features several journalists and media professionals who are experts in highlighting social issues. Peter Koechley, for example, served as an editor for The Onion before co-founding Upworthy. To date, the Upworthy community has dedicated nearly 2 billion minutes of attention to important stories for a better world, ranging from the criminal justice system reform to advertising’s adverse effects on body image to clean energy.

The business session will include social entrepreneurs, companies and leaders who are transforming business models to influence social change. One speaker in this session, Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation, will present on how his organization advances pioneering social change in the areas of HIV/AIDS, worker rights and well being, asset building and social justice in communities touched by Levi Strauss & Co.’s business.

The place session features civic and cause activists who are driving community and cultural change. Fagan Harris, CEO and President of Baltimore Corps, an organization dedicated to building a stronger Baltimore by mobilizing a new generation of leaders focused on urban renewal. We’ll also hear from the co-founder and president of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, Tyson Gersh. Tyson uses urban agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability and community to solve some of the social issues currently facing Detroit.

That just scratches what will happen at MCON this year.

You’ll want to attend MCON if you are a:

  • Cause leader seeking to change the culture of your organization and better engage a new generation of cause enthusiast.
  • Cause marketer looking to build an effective platform to move individuals from cause enthusiasm to action.
  • Cause enthusiast looking to embark on a new personal journey of social good that you haven’t yet defined.

Join us at MCON June 24-25 and discover the power of influence. There are two ways to experience this year’s event. Attend in person at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, or you can watch both days of speaker presentations online. Learn more and register at mcon.events.

Derrick Feldmann is the producer of MCON, the nation’s premier conference on Millennials and causes. He leads the research efforts for The Millennial Impact Project and serves as president of Achieve, a research and creative agency for causes.