How do you define millennials? Innovative, lazy, tech-obsessed? Try “philanthropic.” More than 87 percent of millennials donated to a nonprofit in 2013, and now, intrigued with the influence of their donations, millennials are looking for opportunities to make those dollars work even harder. Typically strapped for cash and time, they’re now turning to brands as outlets for social change, placing their dollars with companies dedicated to social good. Now, for-profit companies are taking notice, evolving old giving models to meet the millennial demand for more philanthropic purse power.
As drivers behind the rise in social enterprise or for-profit business models launched to achieve social good, millennials crave ways to make tangible impacts through their everyday purchases. This spurred the rise of the “one-for-one” giving model utilized by companies like TOMS Shoes and Soapbox Soaps which tie a philanthropic benefit to each purchase. This immediate feeling of giving back has clearly made the “one-for-one” model popular amongst the instant gratification generation. But as with any cultural movement, there are stages and evolutions. As millennials continue to demand more from brands and remain on the lookout for “the next big thing,” innovation around the “one-for-one” giving model will be essential in keeping them engaged and involved in the future.
But the future isn’t quite as far away as you might think. This philanthropic evolution is already happening, as evidenced by the increasing number of companies developing strategies around the “for us, by us” model. This model allows millennials to participate in brand decisions and shape content (“by us”) while tying them to causes they can easily relate to (“for us”).
With UChic, a social commerce company I launched to help young women live their dreams, we implemented this model after discovering that many young women, our target consumers, lacked funding for critical out-of-classroom experiences that can change lives. To solve this problem, we developed a business strategy that allows us to donate a percent of product sales to scholarships for these deserving women within our consumer base. Through research, we found that 61 percent of young women are most likely to support a charitable cause that provides funding for a family in their hometown, showing the importance of connecting our business with a personally meaningful cause in order for our model to succeed. In addition, we give these women a voice in our company, involving them in everything from writing content for our blog to serving as collaborators on product development.
With the “for us, by us” model, companies are enabling millennials to empower themselves through their own purchasing decisions. Want to increase millennial brand loyalty, positively impact your bottom line and join the social good movement? Provide millennials a way to co-create with your brand while allowing them to flex their philanthropic muscles.
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