Research & Insights

Millennials Give a Damn When Others are in Need

From the ice bucket challenge to the polar plunge, more millennials are getting involved in and sharing causes they care about on social media.

Millennials are more likely to get involved with charities when they can see how their actions can help others.

Efforts to raise money on Facebook that emphasize helping others, rather than self-fulfillment, are more effective at increasing involvement, according to Michele Paulin and Ronald Ferguson and their colleagues at Concordia University.

In the study, published in the 2014 issue of the Journal of Service Management, more than 600 undergraduates looked at Facebook event posts for two fictional charity gatherings – a “Denim Night Party” in support of breast cancer research and “Five Days for the Homeless,” designed to raise awareness of youth homelessness.

Participants were shown one of two ads for the events. One ad focused on the benefits of charity work for themselves, and the second discussed how the work helps other people.

Then, participants ranked how interested they were in helping with the event either online – sharing the event page with their friends – or in person – donating to the event or attending it.

The researchers found that pages that discussed the charity event in terms of helping others were more effective at getting Millennials involved both on and offline.

“Marketers should not assume that Millennials are mainly self-centered and egoistic but rather that they should be addressed as a ‘We’ generation,” the researchers note. Appealing to Millennials eagerness to help others is one way to increase involvement.

Journal of Service Management 

Michele Paulin and Ronald J. Ferguson, Concordia University
Nina Jost, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
Jean-Mathieu Fallu, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada

Posted: March 17, 2016
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