While people talk about millennials as being self-centered, they are actually more predisposed to giving than their nickname, “the me generation,” would imply. Not only are they giving, they could be fundamentally changing the approach to philanthropy.Millennials marketing trends changing philanthropy.

USA Today reported on a survey from World Vision, a relief and development charitable organization, which found that 56 percent of millennials have given a charitable gift in the past. The same study also found that only 7 percent of those surveyed believed that young people were more generous than previous generations. Other surveys have found the numbers to be even higher. A report from the Case Foundation determined that 83 percent of millennials made some form of financial gift in 2012. Millennials may not appear to be especially charitable, but as USA Today pointed out, their approach may just be misunderstood.

As digital natives, millennials leverage their expertise with technology for giving, whether this means contributing a small amount to a crowdfunding campaign or using social media to get the word out about a cause that they may not have the resources to fund themselves. In a similar vein, these young people may prefer to offer their time rather than money. Case Foundation’s report found that close to half of respondents preferred to use their skills and background to volunteer for a charitable organization. During its coverage of The Millennial Impact conference, GrantCraft noted the driven nature of the millennials who spoke before the audience. According to the website, the millennials all shared a similar message:

“Everyone has a unique set of resources and abilities. How will you leverage them for something you believe in?”

Social advocacy as a form of philanthropy

For many young people, their wide networks on social platforms are part of their unique resources, which they use to spread the word about different causes. As such, millennials are more action-oriented than their older peers, but their actions may be more visible in the digital world, on social networks. This group is donating a substantial amount of money to causes, but millennials are also spreading the word about the causes that are important to them.

The traditional definition of philanthropy, according to the Case Foundation, is “Love of humankind in the form of time, talent and treasure.” In layman’s terms, that means volunteering, utilizing ones expertise and contributing funds to support a cause. To this list, Case Foundation added “voice” and “network,” as the primary attributes that millennials have brought to the table. In addition to volunteering their time, millennials also spend time advocating for causes and leveraging their networks.

In a more general sense, millennials marketing can teach nonprofits and foundations a lot about harnessing the power of networks and digital tools for good. Fundraising is important, but getting the message out could be equally important, and often this requires investing time in digital platforms, whether they are social networks or simply a solid donation or grant management platform.