Given the deluge of recent articles slamming my generation, positive studies like the Millennial Impact Report are a relief. We’ve been called idle, iPhone-addicted failures, uninterested in getting married, procreating, or moving out of our childhood bedrooms. The University of Chicago labeled us “slacktivists” only interested in giving a charity organization’s Facebook page a “Like,” and not truly invested in social change or justice. Disappointed? That’s where the Millennial Impact Report comes in. According to its data, 83 percent of millennials gave to charities or 503(c) non-profits in 2013, and 52 percent surveyed wanted to commit to monthly donations.
As it turns out, the fact that most of us are addicted to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter only makes us more conscious of do-gooder organizations. Millennials understand social justice in terms of branded #movements, and we follow organizations through their work, integrating our alliance with them as part of our online and offline identities.
Non-profits and charities are listening to projects like the Millennial Impact Report to redesign how they solicit donations from Americans between 20 and 35. We are the generation that is most reachable through social media, specifically through photos and personal anecdotes about the individuals helped by our gifts, and we publicize our social justice interests as part of our web presences. We’re more likely to take online trainings than our predecessors, and we donate our technological skills to organizations, allegedly due to the fact that so many of us are underemployed or not employed at all.
Despite an unemployment rate higher than the national average, 40 percent of young Americans surveyed gave up to $50 in charitable donations in 2013. Even more heartening, 23 percent gave as high as $100 at a time. These statistics suggest a different, more complex understanding of this generation and how we interact with charity organizations, society, and political movements.
For those interested in making a donation to a Boston charity or 503(c) non-profit during the holiday season, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites. Check out their websites, follow them on Facebook, and consider volunteering your time with one of their programs geared towards Millennials. Or, at the very least, send some good-intentioned cash via Paypal and spread joy during the holiday season.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay
Become a mentor to an underprivileged child in Greater Boston.
Girls Rock Boston
Attend a concert put on by young female Bostonians or better yet, teach them an instrument.
Make a Wish Massachusetts & Rhode Island
Help fund the wish of a child with a life-threatening medical condition.
Greater Boston Food Bank
Attend “Brunch for a Cause” or donate food to the hungry in Boston.
Horizons for Homeless Children
Play with children whose families are homeless, once a week for two hours.
Pine Street Inn
Buy holiday cards, start a running club, or make sandwiches for Inn clients.
Refugee and Immigration Assistance Center
Volunteer to teach English and hold workshops in your field for new immigrants.
YMCA of Greater Boston
Teach English, volunteer as a yoga instructor, provide child care, and mentor youth.
Japan Society of Boston
Attend a cultural expo, join an anime/manga club, and take Japanese classes.
Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth
Chaperone a dance, facilitate events, or become an advisory board member.
Greater Boston Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Complete call center hours, facilitate a support group, and write for the newsletter.
Boston LGBT Film Festival
Attend screenings at the ICA, volunteer usher for the festival, and advertise art.
Education & Literacy
Schools on Wheels
Throw a birthday party, tutor a child, and collect backpacks and pencil cases for donation.
Teach a workshop, write grants, do graphic design, and teach music or art.
Grub St, Inc.
Stuff envelopes, fundraise for scholarship fund, and intern or teach a workshop.
Green Streets Initiative
Take photos, write grants, and track your time spent walking or using public transport.
Citizens Climate Lobby
Write letters to politicians, start a local chapter, and join conference calls.
Manage events and parties, donate bicycle parts, and teach bike workshops.
Boston Children’s Hospital
Answer phones, assist families, aid therapy dog visits, and knit and crochet gifts.
Boston Health Care for the Homeless
Provide child care to patients, volunteer as a lobbyist, and provide clerical assistance.
Red Cross Massachusetts
Buy holiday gifts from the catalog, give blood, and get CPR certified.
Special Needs / Disability
Easter Seals of Massachusetts
Serve as a camp counselor, teach workshops, and film and photograph events.
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Join/advertise support group, stuff envelopes, and paint faces and make balloon animals.
Friends for Tomorrow
Care for horses, teach equestrian classes, and donate equipment.
New England Foundation for the Arts
Attend an exhibit, usher at concerts, and join street advertising team.
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
Attend or usher a production, write grants, and facilitate events and parties.
Spare Change News
Purchase issues on street, write blog posts, and provide legal aid.
Pets in Need Animal Rescue
Share “missing friend” notices, adopt a pet, clean shelters, and donate food and toys.
Become a pet foster parent, write blog posts, and provide cat or dog care in facility.
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind
Deliver pets to their “forever homes” and photograph pets waiting to be adopted.
Coach a young woman, provide tax prep assistance, teach workshops, and babysit.
The Women’s Lunch Place
Serve meals, provide clerical assistance, and eat and chat with clients.
Answer calls, provide clerical assistance, and gather signatures.
Black and Pink Foundation
Write encouraging letters to pen-pals, design holiday cards, and collect gifts.
Prison Book Program
Sort through book donations, write for blog, and pack up books and deliver.
Aid to Incarcerated Mothers
Provide counseling, become a notary and process CORIs, and write letters.
Those Who Serve
New England Center for Homeless Veterans
Help veterans job search, write letters of support, and provide clerical assistance.
Veterans History Project
Interview veterans for archive in Library of Congress and take photos.
Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation
Provide clerical assistance, develop marketing materials, and mentor/counsel victims.
[Photo credit: Tom Herde/Globe Staff/File]