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What Does Philadelphia's Growing Millennial Population Mean for Arts & Culture Nonprofits?

Millennials, or individuals born between 1980 and 2000, now account for the largest generation in the American workforce. Currently 1 in 3 workers are millennials, and by 2025 they will account for about 3 in 4 workers.
 
The Greater Philadelphia region is home to a growing cohort of millennials. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, in the City of Philadelphia, population of 20- to 34-year-olds increased by about 100,000 from 2006 through 2012. However, a Pew Charitable Trusts poll reveals that while miillennials love the city, half may leave due to concerns like the local job market. 
 
As the percentage of millennial employees in the nonprofit world rise, so will their influence. Nonprofit and foundation leaders need to understand this changing workforce.
 
A new study by ProInspire, A Force for Impact: Millennials in the Nonproft Sector, found that compared to previous generations millennials are:
  • Diverse - Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history. 56% of millennials are white, vs. Generation X (61%) and Baby Boomers (72%). They are diverse in other ways as well, including the type of household in which they grew up.
  • Digital - Millennials have been leaders in driving adoption of new digital platforms such as mobile technology and social media.
  • Value-based - Millennials value quality of life, including staying close to family and friends; free time for experiences and recreation; and making a positive social impact.
  • Educated - More millennials have a college degree than any preceding generation of young adults, including more lower-income and underrepresented minority students.
  • Debt-laden - The number of people carrying student loans is higher than ever before, and the amount of debt per borrower has increased. High student debt adversely affects low-income families in particular.
  • Shaped by the Recession - Millennials who entered the job market during and after the Great Recession have been impacted economically, professionally, and culturally.
  • Filled with Optimism and High Expectations -  Millennials tend to be more optimistic than other generations, and they also have high expectations for themselves.
  • Single for Longer - Millennials are delaying marriage and families longer than past generations.
 
Based on those attributes, ProInspire also developed the following 10 strategies for the nonprofit sector to better recruit, retain, and advance millennial employees:
 
1. Build a Culture of Transparency and Trust
Honesty, transparency, and opportunity to provide input in decision-making are important to millennials. Nonprofit leaders can deepen trust and credibility by fostering a transparent culture that aligns employees on organizational goals and strategy. 
 
2. Develop Strong People Managers in Your Organization
People managers are the most important influence on an employee’s engagement in an organization, and they are particularly important to millennials. 
 
3. Prioritize Competitive Compensation
Pay matters to millennials, and it will become an even bigger factor as the economy improves and employment opportunities expand. It is also an important factor for organizations to attract and retain a diverse talent pool. 
 
4. Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority
Organizations that honestly assess their current state and place a meaningful focus on diversity and inclusion are more likely to attract and retain Millennials of different backgrounds in their organizations.
 
5. Encourage Ongoing Feedback
Nonprofits should set expectations for managers to provide honest and regular feedback, and create a culture and support systems to enable it.
 
6. Prepare Employees for Their Next Opportunity
Millennials are eager to learn and grow throughout their careers. Nonprofits should be transparent that they want to prepare people for their next opportunity, even if that opportunity may not be at their organization. 
 
7. Identify Projects that Offer Cross-Functional Work and Leadership Experience
With structure and supervision, organizations can leverage millennial interests for cross-functional work, stretch opportunities, and leadership experience, while augmenting capacity for different projects. 
 
8. Intentionally Invest in Professional Development
Nonprofits that actively invest in employees—and give them some latitude in choosing opportunities that support both near-term needs of their roles and longer-term career goals—are better positioned to retain millennials. 
 
9. Create Opportunities for Cross-Generational Engagement
Organizations that encourage collaboration among employees of varying ages will help individuals build one-on-one relationships and overcome stereotypes that can hinder work. 
 
10. Support Flexible Work Practices
 Flexible work options can strengthen employer brand with millennials and help offset lower compensation.
 
Has your organization already embraced any of these practices? Share your experience with us on Twitter @philaculture.