Fifth of Millennials Call Themselves Activists

New study finds millennials worried about the country’s direction and increasingly engaged

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A new report from Achieve, a research and marketing firm, and the Case Foundation examines how the Trump presidency is influencing millennial activism and cause engagement.

More than one in five millennials in the survey identified as activists.

The study, conducted this summer among 3,000 millennials, found that 71% of respondents thought the U.S. was headed in the wrong direction, or were not sure, and 49% said they were unsatisfied or extremely unsatisfied with President Donald Trump.

(Related: New Strategy to Navigate Market Volitility, Sept. 21 webcast with Michael Finke)

Only 27% purported to be satisfied with him.

Millennials in the poll said voting was important. Sixty-five percent said they had voted in November, compared with 55% of the general population.

In addition, 66% believed voting would lead to the kind of change they wanted to see, 71% said voting was a form of activism and 77% asserted that voting was every citizen’s duty.

The survey found that millennial respondents were energized and ready to create change.

According to the report, self-identification with different labels — activist, advocate, ally, supporter — was correlated with the issues and types of actions millennials took.

Twenty-one percent identified as activists — a group that, it said, was rising as the most highly engaged, active and willing to act on behalf of others. Of these, 71% had greater confidence in their own ability to create change, while 39% were very confident, 31% confident and 18% somewhat confident in their organization’s ability to do so.

What issues are driving millennials to take action? The top three in the new report were civil rights/discrimination, job creation and health care reform.

These issues changed after the election. Last year, the top three issues were education, health care and the economy.

The survey also found that millennials feel constrained to engage locally more than nationally, although those who do engage nationally do not do so at the expense of their local activities.

Millennials want their voices to be heard and, for now, are combining traditional forms of activism with the channels of communication they know well.

The survey showed that while posting on social media ranked high among actions taken, it plummeted when respondents were asked which actions they had taken were likeliest to bring about change.

The report said that organizations wanting to tap the power of millennial activism needed to understand this generation as coalition builders who can power movements because of their natural comfort with multi-sector approaches, including:

  • Using their voice in government as voters and through outreach to their representatives
  • Expressing their preferences for ethical brands
  • Using social media to further a cause they care about
  • Donating time and money to organizations they support

“This generation has affected more than just the nonprofit sector with their unique brand of social good and issue engagement,” Achieve president Derrick Feldman said in a statement.

“They have changed how the government responds with new social issue policies. They have changed the culture at corporate America to stand up for the disenfranchised and address the challenges within our communities. They are changing how nonprofits are defining philanthropy.”

--- Check out Thinking Millennial: How to Woo the Largest Generation on ThinkAdvisor.

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