Oh Millennials, the generation whose mindsets and motivations are increasingly the focus of the media’s gaze. Especially since we have been found guilty of trying to transform so much of the established paradigms set by previous generations. Well, today and as a millennial myself, I do believe we are transforming one industry for the better, and that is Philanthropy.
In a world where social issues are abundant and social impact solutions are more important than ever, millennials have found a need to reinterpret the traditional boundaries of philanthropy. It seems our generation is turning to another way of creating impact, an approach more fitting to our generation, Social Entrepreneurship.
Social Entrepreneurship was not created by millennials, not by any means, but it is being embraced by new generations as a more suitable way for solving society's biggest issues.
I believe, there are four main characteristics of our generation’s mindset that make Social Entrepreneurship the millennial version of Philanthropy:
1. Technology and social networks make Millennials more empathic.
Millennials are more connected and informed than ever before, and this is key to the growth of social entrepreneurship.
Today, we are all a lot closer to the problems of other people on our planet. Where other generations felt disconnected to social issues that affected people on different countries and continents, the era of social networks and information, has brought us closer to the problem. They are harder to ignore, far easier to empathise with and palpably present in our day-to-day lives.
Although technology is often accused of making us impersonal, I believe it has contributed to our collective mindfulness about world issues. It has helped to create a deeper sense of understanding.
And more importantly, and where previous generations were not as fortunate, we have witnessed how it is possible to create a positive impact on the lives of others. Whether it is by donating online, signing petitions, or designing solutions ourselves, technology is actually empowering a generation of change makers.
2. Millennials see entrepreneurship as a way of life.
Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, our established economic model has come into question. Today, working for big companies does not necessarily provide the security and comfort it once used to. More so, people are increasingly inclined to measure their job satisfaction against less-financially motivated metrics.
Emotional wellbeing, life experiences and a sense of purpose are some of the incentives for this generation. And many large companies have yet to prove they can provide them for their employees, compelling millennials to seek further professional development out the traditional career paths of our parents.
On the other side, we have witnessed firsthand the rise of entrepreneurship as new paradigm of prosperity, this century’s role models are Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg and many others.
Being an entrepreneur has become an aspirational status, thus pushing millennials to find entrepreneurship as a more attractive way to solve the issues we have been connected to through technology.
3. Millennials are independent beings.
The new generations question and challenge authority, becoming more disconnected from institutions like governments and large corporations.
This need for independence does not sit well with one of philanthropy's biggest paradigms, its continuous dependence for someone else's charity, whether it be donations, pro bono work, or simply put, “good will”.
On the other hand, social entrepreneurship proposes self sustained business models, which are perfect to feed this need for independence.
4. Millennials are entitled.
It has been said numerous times that the way we have been raised has made us entitled, we believe that we can have anything we want, and we are not willing to wait for it. This makes us look impatient, greedy and arrogant, but many millennials entitlement comes not from material or personal gain, but for a better, more sustainable world, free of poverty, and global warming. We want that and we want it now.
I strongly believe that to create profound change in the world, a sense of urgency and ambition are key elements of social entrepreneurship, because they fuel the creation of scalable solutions that can reach many, quickly.
One final challenge
Even though today we are changing the paradigms of philanthropy, this should not mean we forget the valuable lessons it has taught us.
We have a responsibility to learn how to use all the knowledge philanthropic organizations have developed working directly with communities to create positive impact, while at the same time, redefining the models that will allow us to use that experience to foster sustainable and scalable solutions.
Empathy, independence, entitlement, and the entrepreneurial spirit, make millennials the perfect generation to change the paradigms of traditional philanthropy, making social entrepreneurship a perfect way to both fulfil our sense of purpose, and solve for once and for all, the issues that impact the most vulnerable members of our society.
The question is, are we as a generation up to the challenge?
Juan Del Cerro is the founder of Disruptivo.tv, the largest media platform for social entrepreneurship and social innovation in Latin America, and the CEO of Socialab México, a platform for Social Entrepreneurs. The acclaimed author of “What is Social Entrepreneurship?” also writes for Entrepreneur Magazine, hosts the podcast “Disruptivo” and has given two TEDx talks. Juan is a board member of the Global Entrepreneurship Network for Mexico, and the Mexican National Entrepreneurs Association.
Follow @ChivasVenture on Twitter for all the highlights from the competition, and the latest stories, ideas and individuals that are helping to shape our future.
No endorsement or connection is meant between those featured in this article and Chivas.