What Motivates Millennial Employees to Give and Volunteer?

Want to know what triggers Millennials to participate in corporate volunteering and giving programs? The 2014 Millennial Impact Research project will tell you everything you need to know.

By Chris Jarvis

Millennials are different – kinda.

I love working with Millennials. They are passionate, driven and open to new ideas. Yet, as with all generations, they come with some idiosyncrasies that employers need to pay attention to if they expect to get the best out of them.

This video captures some of these idiosyncrasies in a hilarious manner (if it’s not funny to you, just read on—this research project is for you!)

The secrets of engaging Millennials

Achieve, an organization that we at RW have a ton of respect for, specializes in Millennial research. This year, they will be conducting research on Millennial employee participation, interest, and attitudes towards the company’s community engagement programs. It will cover general, pro bono, and skills-based volunteering as well as broader social responsibility programming and other philanthropic efforts.

With support from the Case Foundation, Achieve has been looking into Millennial behaviors and motivations since 2009. Since then, they’ve revealed how the generation connects (mobile, social media, and digital), interacts (micro-service, group volunteering, and pro-bono or skills), and gives (micro-giving, transaction methods, and peer fundraising) to and with causes. This work represents the influences of more than 14,000 Millennial individuals through surveys, focus groups, user tests, and tracking.

Why does this matter?

Corporate volunteering and workplace giving programs are gaining importance as key strategies to boost engagement among existing employees and attract the best talent from universities. This new research will help corporations understand the connection between these programs as well as the interests and motivations of Millennials.

For example, Millennials expect to have careers that include social impact.

How does it work?

Through a series of surveys, interviews and monthly tests, the opinions of Millennials (age 20-30) regarding community investment programs will be collected and evaluated. The goal is to understand what motivational factors need to be present within the environment for Millennials to connect and get involved with company service, CSR, and philanthropic efforts. 

The research will be conducted across 15 corporations consisting of 5 large cap companies ($10 billion+), 5 medium cap companies ($2-$9 billion), and 5 small cap companies ($300 million to $2 billion).

Why should your company consider participating?

  • An advance briefing of the 2014 Millennial Impact Report findings before they are released publicly in June 2014.
  • A report with the survey responses from their Millennial employees and benchmarks against the complete survey pool.
  • Recognition in the 2014 Millennial Impact Report on The Millennial Impact website and at MCON14.
  • Click here for the application form.

What is the research timeline?

  • Research Partners identified and selected (November 2013)
  • Promotion and distribution of the online survey (December 15, 2013 – January 31, 2014)
  • Research Partner briefings (May 2014)
  • Research Partners receive custom survey results from Millennial employees (June 2014) 

Where can I see a copy of past research?

Research from previous years is available to download at http://themillennialimpact.com/research.

For more information or questions about the Research Partner expectations or the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, please contact the Millennial Impact Team, or send us an email at contact@realizedworth.com.

Chris Jarvis
Realized Worth Co-Founder

Transformational Companies: The Breakthrough Approach

At the CBSR Summit, John Elkington, the “Grandfather of Sustainability,” gave the keynote address through which he illustrated the need for companies to become transformational in their approach to CSR and Sustainability.

By Christine Johnston

Realized Worth attended the 11th Annual CBSR Summit on November 6, 2013 in Toronto. It was a fantastic event, at which John Elkington, the keynote speaker, began the day with an important message for everyone involved in the CSR and Sustainability fields: global change is ripe but companies must become transformational to secure the breakthroughs necessary for significant and lasting change.


Elkington outlined in his presentation that societal pressure caused by shifting demographics and the increasing prevalence of cross-sector issues are the main forces currently driving change in CSR and Sustainability efforts. He credited “Shared Value“, a concept brought forward by these drivers, with being one of the most significant contributions to the field to date, but asserted that its full potential has yet to be realized due to a lack of transformational change contributing to breakthroughs.

Elkington outlined the 3 trajectories through which change happens:

  1. Breakdown Trajectory: change results in reverting to previous operating systems and goals.
  2. Change-as-Usual Trajectory: change results in incremental steps, out of touch with societal trends and with significant time lags.
  3. Breakthrough Trajectory: significant change and solutions are secured through new systems and goals.

Successful Breakthrough Factors

To jump from a Change-As-Usual Trajectory to a Breakthrough Trajectory, Elkington argued that companies must become transformative in their overall business approach. To do this, he suggested that a form of “integrated accounting”, which would incorporate different types of capital, (human capital and social capital, for example) into a company’s balance sheets to demonstrate the benefits of transformational business approaches. This concept is also advocated for in William Eggers & Paul MacMillan’s new book, The Solution Revolution (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). Elkington cautioned that if companies do not recognize the potential contribution of operating in a transformational way, breakthrough change will not be achieved and we will continue on the path of incremental “change-as-usual”.

Where are you?

Is your company transformational? Is it working to achieve breakthroughs, rather than change-as-usual in the CSR/Sustainability field?

Christine Johnston Project Manager


Doing Good is Good for You

The following is a guest post from Kate Rubin, Vice President of UnitedHealth Group and President of UnitedHealth Foundation. It has been gently edited for the purposes of the RW blog. Enjoy!

At UnitedHealth Group, building healthier communities is the mission of our social responsibility efforts. Using data we’ve collected on health, we link it to business goals and then leverage it to drive high-impact social responsibility initiatives.

This is why we’ve invested in research that demonstrates how volunteering is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. In Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, we found that people who volunteer feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Volunteers tell us they are convinced their health is better because of the things they do when they volunteer. Doing good is, indeed, good for you!

Volunteering Makes a Difference

People who volunteered in the past 12 months told us volunteering has made them feel physically healthier. Additionally, volunteers are more likely than non-volunteers to consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months.

There is an even stronger connection between volunteering and mental and/or emotional health.

Volunteers gave higher ratings than non-volunteers on nine well-established measures of emotional well-being, which includes personal independence, capacity for rich interpersonal relationships, and overall satisfaction with life. Volunteering also improved their mood and self-esteem.

Volunteering can also help us manage stress. The majority of people who have volunteered in the past year say that volunteering has lowered their stress levels. Volunteers stated that they felt calm and peaceful most of the time over the past month, which is much higher than the overall population. Last but not least, most surveyed reported that they had a lot of energy most of the time, again, doing better than the average adult.

It’s true: volunteering makes us feel better. And while we’re feeling better, other people who benefit from our efforts feel better, too.  Everybody wins.

Employers Get Healthier, Too

The health impacts of volunteering cascade into the workplace as well. Healthier employees lead to lower health care costs and increased productivity. Employers find employees who volunteer are less stressed, more engaged and are developing important work and “people” skills.

Throughout our research, we found that employees who volunteer through company sponsored events are up to 24% more engaged than employees who do not volunteer. It is well-documented that engaged employees deliver more value to an organization, demonstrating that investing in volunteering programs in the workplace can deliver a real return on the investment.

There’s more: job skills and employee attitudes toward colleagues and employers are also enhanced, particularly for employers who actively enable and encourage volunteering among their employees.

Whether you are talking about functional job skills or interpersonal team-building skills, volunteering provides an opportunity for employees to learn and develop skills that make them more proficient and effective in the workplace.

Volunteering supports healthier individuals, healthier communities, and healthier employers. It’s a win-win scenario that should be seized by individuals and businesses alike. Doing good is good for all of us!

Additional information on the healthy benefits of volunteering, including the full Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study can be found here.

Tell us how volunteering has benefited you in unexpected ways in the comment section below!

Kate Rubin
Vice President, UnitedHealth Group
President, UnitedHealth Foundation


The Better Incentive: A Bonus or Workplace Giving?

Numerous studies indicate that companies with workplace giving and employee volunteering programs will experience the benefit of positive employee attitudes, overall satisfaction, and increased performance that the usual financial incentives cannot achieve on their own.

By Chris Jarvis

It is widely accepted among HR professionals that giving employees pay incentives and other job related perks generates emotional commitment to the company. This is based on a concept known as the social exchange theory that states people will reciprocate according to what they receive. In fact, the theory posits that “all human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives”.

So when companies provide these typical HR incentives, the employees interpret this support as “a signal that the organization values and cares about their well-being, and following the norm of reciprocity, they are motivated to reciprocate by developing a stronger emotional bond with the organization”.

Want to dig deeper? Check out:

Here’s the problem: the social exchange theory is only partially correct. In fact, in his book Drive, Daniel Pink cites several studies that demonstrate that in certain circumstances increased monetary incentives can significantly diminish employee performance.

Want to dig deeper? Check out:

HR Benefits Money Can’t Buy

Employee volunteering and workplace giving programs are designed to generate prosocial behavior, i.e. “a voluntary behavior intended to benefit another”. Typically, we express this type of behavior through acts of sharing, donating, and volunteering. As we’ve noted before, Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School and author of the upcoming book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success suggests:

“The act of giving to support programs strengthens employees’ affective commitment to their organization by enabling them to see themselves and the organization in more prosocial, caring terms.”

A recent study asked the question: “Instead of giving your employees more money to spend on themselves, what if you provide them the same bonuses with one caveat: they must be spent on prosocial actions towards charities and co-workers?”

What did they find?

  1. “Prosocial bonuses may lead to the strengthening of existing relationships and even the formation of new relationships; such positive interpersonal relationships predict job engagement and job satisfaction.”
  2. “Prosocial bonuses might lead to increased cooperation and cohesiveness between team members, which can improve team performance in part by encouraging helping behaviors.”
  3. “Prosocial spending may increase general feelings of reciprocity among members of organizations, leading both to greater cooperation and punishment of ‘shirkers’ or ‘free riders’ – those employees who are not contributing to the goals of the organization.”

Want to dig deeper? Check out:

Sounds good! But I’ve got 3 questions …

1. What about salary levels? Does this affect prosocial benefits?

2. Does it work if companies tell employees what they have to do?

3. Is this just a western concept? Will it work in other places the same way?

First: money matters.

Prosocial benefits only mattered once the employee achieved a certain level of income. But it may be less than what most people think (I want to be clear that I’m not trying to get away with paying people less than they are worth).

In the blog we wrote discussing how and when engagement kicks in via prosocial activity, we cited some of Daniel Pink’s research (again from his book Drive) which demonstrates that money can act as a negative in job performance. In fact, the best choice is to pay people enough that it acts as neither a de-incentive or as an incentive.

Want to dig deeper? Check out:

Second: choice is essential.

Telling employees that they have to or should participate will negate the effects of prosocial behavior. We work with companies to ensure they take a ‘both/and’ approach. The company can have a single focus and incentivize participation, but they also need to support prosocial behavior that doesn’t fit those specific activities and outcomes.

Employees need to be able to freely choose to participate.

Employees must also freely choose where to distribute the dollar value (or other value). It may be a limited set of options, which is fine. For example, letting employees donate money to one of 5 or 10 nonprofits that fit the companies social investment priorities.

Third: Does it work for everyone?

Seriously? From all over the world, even given all the differences in culture and societal makeup?


Science indicates that all things being equal, prosocial bonuses work for all human beings based on our physiological and neurological makeup.

“Behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that being nice and caring for others makes us feel good by the release of dopamine through the projection of neural pathways from the brainstem to the nucleus accumbens. The fronto-mesolimbic reward network is engaged to the same extent when individuals receive monetary rewards and when they freely choose to donate money to charitable organizations.”

Want to dig deeper? Check out:

We can help.

The Realized Worth Global Team has the skill and experience you need to help you create an outstanding employee volunteering and workplace giving program. We will work with you to engage employees in your corporate citizenship program. Our goal is to meet each person at “their highest level of engagement”.

Take a look at some of the projects we’ve been working on recently.

Stay tuned, we’ve got lots more great insights to share with you on our blog.

Give us a call if you’d like to talk further at 855.926.4678. Or email us at contact@realizedworth.com.

Chris Jarvis
Realized Worth Co-Founder