Millennials Actually Care About Things, Studies Show

The oft-cited adage that Millennials care only about themselves is the ongoing reasoning behind many of the problems of this generation. Taking a quick look at the selfie-taking, Facebook updating, Twitter posting youth, this may seem an accurate explanation, but new research about Generation Y points to the contrary.

According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, people born in the 80s and 90s are highly inclined to affect social change and participate in volunteer work.

Research from Achieve and sponsored by The Case Foundation finds that 87% of Millennials (from a group of 1,154) gave money to charity in 2013, and a majority gave over $100.

The lead researcher of this study and president of Achieve Derrick Feldmann says, “The new workforce, which will be

Image courtesy of Flickr/Anise Smith

Image courtesy of Flickr/Anise Smith

mostly comprised of the Millennial generation by 2020, wants and expects companies to be active and responsible members of the community.”

The report says that 92% of individuals surveyed believe their company makes a positive difference in the world and nearly 90% feel compelled to participate in their company’s charitable work.

Kari Dunn Saratovsky, principal of the non-profit consulting group KDS Strategies, says, “They believe the success of the business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance… Millennials feel that improving society is among the most important things it should seek to achieve."

Saratovsky has done extensive research about Millennials and what inspires them to make a social impact, and she finds that this generation sees philanthropy as an investment of their time and talent, not just financial donations.

The report demonstrates that peer influence is also a major factor in volunteerism and philanthropy for this generation. They feel the impact of their service even when not volunteering, and the popularity of social media outlets like YouTube videos and Facebook groups and posts are a major contribution to this experience.

The alarming rate of promiscuity is another factor that is highly indicative of Generation Y’s supposed “selfishness.” Evidence suggests, however, that this generalization is simply a myth. The supposed “hook up” culture is a fictionalized idea that suggests this group is far more likely to engage in what used to be known as “casual sex.”

According to a 20-year study of 5,000 college students by University of Maine professor Sandra L. Caron, “the incidence of a student having five or more partners has remained relatively unchanged.” A University of Portland study agrees that “the alarmist concerns that ‘easy sex is rampant on college campuses today’ are not justified.”

What has changed with this generation is the likelihood of young people to engage in safer sex. College-aged adults use condoms and birth control medication more frequently than their Generation X counterparts.

With volunteer groups like 4Boston, minors like Faith, Peace and Justice, awareness groups like Students for Sexual Health and various religious groups on campus, Boston College students stand their ground in asserting that the current generation does care about something other than themselves. Students hope that continuous support and activism will get the message across that this generation is working toward a better future, despite the negative views and difficult challenges it faces.

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Madeline Cortes