People love to harp on us Millennials. We’re products of the “Participation Trophy” phenomenon, anything short of instant gratification is unacceptable, our obsession with social media is out of control and prohibitive, the list goes on…those things might be true, but I would also argue that, collectively, we are far more socially conscious and attune to the connections of humankind and our global responsibility than generations past. I would also argue that this characteristic of my generation is most important and one that consistently intersects with each of the others.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing intersections is that between social media and social consciousness. As I spend more and more time in the nonprofit sector, I see that intersection more and more, and suspect that as young professionals like my peers in this Fellowship program graduate into this sector, it will only become more prevalent.
Since October, I have seen two campaigns here at SON Ministries that relied either exclusively or heavily on social media. The first was titled “Faces of SON Ministries” and was modeled after the popular series, “Humans of New York.” Each day in December, a new staff member, volunteer, or participant in our programming was featured on our Facebook page with their SON Ministries story. The goal was to spread awareness of our mission at an incredibly low cost in a fun and engaging way that members of the “Digital Age” would recognize. Each post received, on average, twenty interactions, and most importantly, at least one share. The shares were critical because it meant that we were reaching outside of our sphere of influence of those who have “liked” our page into the spheres of our fans’ personal accounts…our message is spreading! (Shameless plug: Go like us on Facebook!: https://www.facebook.com/sonministries/)
The second campaign was Coatless For A Cause (featured in my last post). From beginning to end, this also relied heavily on social media for its success. Our primary method of advertising the campaign came from daily blog-style reflections from staff members as they braced the frigid weather. We utilized the hashtag #Coatless4ACause, and took to Twitter to make sure our campaign was always fresh in our followers’ minds. When it came to actually collecting, we utilized a crowd rising site, so that the entirety of the campaign was conducted online. The Internet has proven to be a powerful ally.
I truly suspect that online fundraising will eventually overtake the typical styles of fundraising letter campaigns or donation dinners in supporting nonprofits, especially as the Millennial generation takes over and brings with it its “obsession with social media” and “instant gratification.” But just as people have begun to speculate on the negative effects social media has on my generation’s communication skills, interpersonal relationships or even eyesight, it is too soon to tell if this is a positive or negative transition.