Learning from Millennials: #MCON14

If you've been following @grantcraft or #MCON14 on Twitter, you'll have some idea of how driven, intelligent, and selfless the millennial speakers have been. They come from every field you can imagine, from clothing brand pros to NASCAR racersmarketing specialists to muggle fanscouncilmen to crochet afficionados. While we only heard from two grantmakers, the broad collection of speakers collectively showcase the philanthropic tenacity of a generation. Their enterprises and ventures all carry a social welfare conscience; they build diversity and inclusion practices into whatever they do. They value and build on the work of other generations, and want to support systems, organizations, and people who will make the world better for future generations. They look to collaboration over competition, and people over profits. They embrace social networks - on and offline - and how to leverage them to spread messaging and engage people in a cause. 

What has struck me most is that nearly every speaker in some way shared a similar message:

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

What a terrific lesson for grantmakers to hear and embrace. Rayid Ghani reminded us a few hours ago that organizations have limits, and that they need to personalize messaging and tap influencers to really spread their work and achieve impact. You - funders - are doing important work, but there are limits to how your foundation or other organized entity can share that work and move others to support your cause. You - a human with unique talents, networks, and perspective - can leverage you beyond what your foundation can do to advance that cause. Millennials constantly show that jobs and personal life aren't so separate anymore; bringing who you are into your role can truly maximize effectiveness. For Vanessa Black, for instance, this meant going to Ukraine to document the aftermath of the revolution and using her networks to grow the resulting film's visibility. From a donor perspective, Justin Rockefeller used his politics, data, and financial knowhow to cofound TheImpact, whose mission is to increase the probability and pace of solving social problems by improving the flow of capital to businesses creating measurable social impact. By putting yourself out there in ways that are complementary to your work, there's truly no limit to what we can together accomplish, regardless of generation. 

About the author(s)

Director of Stakeholder Engagement