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Millennials Value Philanthropy Over Profit

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Dec. 9 2014, Published 2:00 a.m. ET

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when thoughts turn to the season of giving – or, for someone who subscribes to one of the common myths about millennials, the season of receiving. Year after year, the actions of this massive generation are proving this to be yet another baseless assumption, but there is still some work to do.

Often nicknamed “Generation Me,” the men and women of this generation not only have to compete with their peers to get the job, but they also must prove themselves to their superiors once they’ve accepted the position. What many corporations and managers do not believe – or just do not realize – is that the majority of young adults are actually extremely charitable, and care a lot more about the world they live in than they do about their next ‘selfie’.

Deloitte, who regularly surveys millennials across the globe, dedicated their 3rd annual survey to social impact, and asked what this generation views as the role businesses should play in society. The results are loud and clear; this so-called narcissistic and self-centered generation cares deeply about not only doing their part to make the world a better place but also about what their employer is doing to that same end.

While solid social and environmental policies and community involvement are becoming key recruiting factors for companies who want to attract top millennial workers, not all organizations are aware that millennials even care about these matters at all.

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If you are the millennial caught in this twilight where not all employers are on the same playing field, how do you ensure that the job you take aligns with your social values?

1. Apply for jobs at socially conscientious organizations

While looking for jobs, focus on employers who share the same social values as you. The obvious answer might be to target a nonprofit in your favorite area of philanthropy, but jobs in those organizations can be scarce.  Search out companies known for being generous with their resources and/or money. They are more and more common. Also check in with that favorite charity; they probably list who their donors are on their website. Or investigate the sponsorship of fundraising events associated with your cause of choice. If you’re not concerned about a specific cause, find out about the social good profile of your target employer by going to their website and looking at their ‘About Us’ as well as information on ‘Employee Benefits’ to see what causes they get involved in or support. Many employers offer time off for volunteer work or do a donation match on charitable giving. Check company news too. Most companies who are doing good in their communities have something to say about it.

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2. Consider volunteer work and internships as equals

In an interview, you might constantly want to talk about the paid internship you scored while you were in college and every task you accomplished, but don’t shy away from talking about the unpaid, volunteer opportunities you took part in, too. Show the company you want to work for that you have a passion outside of getting a paycheck, and if there is a particular type of volunteer work or cause that interests you, let them know that and ask if the employer is engaged in any particular charities or social causes. Just be sure to get through the business part of the interview first.

3. Get Involved

Whether your company is volunteering at the local soup kitchen or just in need of some helping hands at an out-of-office event, sign yourself up! Show your philanthropic nature and your willingness to donate some of your free time to help make someone else’s life easier.

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4. Promote volunteerism

Not all companies have existing volunteer opportunities, and some don’t think to promote it among employees despite understanding that it’s a great attribute for any employee to have. Use this as your opportunity to get your colleagues and your company involved in the community, whether it’s during work hours or at a special event in the evenings or on weekends. And remember, many companies have a budget for charitable giving – either in dollars or resources – and the discretion to choose the target charities each year. You may be able to influence that choice.

Not everyone you’ll meet in the corporate world has yet to catch up with the good news about millennials’ concern for making the world a better place, but don’t let that deter you from asking. Communication is key to overcoming misunderstandings about generational differences as well as getting into a career at a company you can feel good about.

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