In a 2007 article for The New York Times, journalist and author Thomas Friedman referred to millennials as “members of Generation Q” – meaning they were the quiet, inactive generation as far as social issues were concerned. Put this description alongside the “self-centered and lazy” labels seen all too often in media headlines of the past decade, and one would have believed that this new wave of American adults could never be counted on to lift their heads from their devices to think about anyone or anything else.
Little did most people realize that these young Americans were beginning to use those devices and a different view of how to make an impact to set the world of cause engagement on its ear.
As little research had been done on millennials and little was known about how they engaged with causes, social good and movement building, the Case Foundation launched a comprehensive research project to better understand this generation’s actions and motivations. As you might imagine, the research promptly debunked the stereotypes of the time and provided great insight into millennials’ interests in social causes that most traditional cause focused organizations needed to appeal to this large generation.
Over a ten-year period, this Case Foundation-sponsored work has created one of the largest bodies of data and analysis on how U.S. millennials interact with causes. This report captures the key learnings from this decade of research. In particular, it demonstrates how the nation’s youngest generation of adults engages in doing good, what millennials consider to be activism, how they see themselves taking action to make an impact, how they see the public, private, nonprofit and government sectors addressing societal challenges and the consequences of ignoring their powerful influence.
Since 2009, the Case Foundation has supported the Millennial Impact Project. This effort has resulted in a pivotal series of yearly studies—the Millennial Impact Report—which, over ten years, have been informed by more than 150,000 surveys. The reports explore how the millennial generation connects, gives and gets involved with the issues they care about.