Millennials Don’t Want Charity Jobs – We Want Impact!

The Millennials are here; in fact, we now outnumber Boomers in the workplace.

youth workplace

We’ve been called everything from selfish and narcissistic, to lazy and entitled. As we shake off the (mis)perceptions people will realize that we’re a generation that wants to make a difference. In fact, meaningful work is an imperative for our generation.

With an increased interest in meaningful work, one may assume that charities are seeing an influx of new college graduates. Yet a recent U.S. study indicates that only 18% of college graduates intend to enter the non-profit or teaching fields. Further, only one in ten MBAs who graduated between 2010 and 2013 are working in non-profits or for the government, compared to one in four who graduated before 1990.

What is contributing to the decline and the disconnect between interest and action? Are the stereotypes right, or are we thinking about this all wrong?

It’s no question that many Millennials want impact, but the truth is that the way we think about charity has changed. We don’t believe that there needs to be a separation between purpose and profit. The majority of us believe that businesses have a responsibility to do more for society – 92% of Millennials think business success should be based on more than profit.

The recent success of social purpose companies like TOMS and Warby Parker, demonstrate the changing tide in business operation and demonstrate new opportunities to make a difference through your job beyond working for a charity. But the non-profit sector is also changing. Many charities are becoming social enterprises, adding additional revenue streams, ultimately blending purpose and profit.

When MaRS and my company Bmeaningful, a social impact career site, were writing our report on Finding Meaningful Work and Attracting Top Talent, we identified the different ways that you can do good and make money. We define meaningful work as any role that strives to fulfill an explicit social or environmental purpose- but we recognize that you can find meaning in any job and that this doesn’t just apply to Millennials.

Here are eight career options:

  1. Work for a company that makes products or delivers services with social impact at their core, otherwise known as a social purpose business.
  2. Work for a for-profit company that enables non-profits to achieve impact. Whether the company helps them through technology or strategy, you can work for a company that helps them run their operations more effectively.
  3. Join a consulting company that has a department dedicated to doing pro bono work for the community or helping non-profits.
  4. Become a finance professional who uses finance as a tool for social change (aka social finance or impact investing). Investment funds designed exclusively for social good are proliferating and are in need of financial professionals to manage their strategy and invest the funds.
  5. Pursue a career in corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability. Large corporations set up CSR departments to manage their efforts, for example, by driving the company’s environmental initiatives or working on the corporate sustainability strategy. You can also become a consultant who advises corporations on their strategies and measuring results.
  6. Work for a non-profit or a charity: these are organizations that have a mission at their core. Although the impact sector is broader than non-profits, these organizations still represent an important and sizeable source of impact careers.
  7. Work for a corporate foundation- a private entity funded by a for-profit company. Foundations often form part of the corporate environment, but have a budget and mission that is separate from other departments.
  8. Become a social entrepreneur and create jobs for yourself and others.

To learn more about how to get a job in one of these areas and examples of companies check out The Impact Economy: The Insiders Guide to Finding Meaningful Work and Attracting Top Talent.
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Amanda Minuk is a co-founder and the CEO of Bmeaningful. She’s on a mission to help professionals discover the jobs and companies that make a difference and get more top talent interested in social impact careers.

  • Guy

    In France we have seen a multiplication of professional Masters Degree in sustanaible Development, Social Economy, International Solidarity butin the past years because the formations structures as Universities our private schools as HEC and ESSEC had analysed the fact that more and more young people are searching for a meaningful job. But their IS NO JOB IN THESE FIELDS. Worst ! If you find a job it will not be paid, or not realy, or it will be a volonteer contract etc. The shame for those public and private universities is to sell new meningful professions to respond to the client demand, but not to assure that the other society actors will do the same, so we don’t have frame for professions as humanitarian workers, or for the new social workers etc. But we have a tranning market. The meaninful traning is gold but not for the student…

    In 10 years, I’ve always been working in the social, cultural, public, international solidarity, social economy fields as manager and I’ve always been paid the “Mininum Salary Guaranteed”. As Yunus use to says “charity is not a economical scheme”. Why does in France 99% of the jobs offers in the senses fields (social work, cultural production, territorial development, sustanaible develoment) are “Insertion Jobs” ? For most of the french association doesn’t have financial strategies and depende on public subventions wich are falling appart thanks to the speculation crisis. That’s why our Masters degree in these fields are poor workers here or get out France to reach a proper life …

    For those who stay in the country we’re still working to strengthen the NGO’s financial and management capacities, which means help them to change their way of thinking social action, cultural production, international relationship etc. But it’s not easy to do so in a precarious situation. For exemple, French social workers are the first to be touch by the speculation crisis and are still working hours without getting paid for their jobs, waiting for NGO’s to find a new design.

    I realy hope social business, social finance, permaculture, agroeclology and theses solutions we have will be spread and learn before it’s to late. I don’t see other way to save my life and to work for the commun good.

    GT