Civic Health Index calls for state to leverage generational differences

by Jayson Busso,

The recently released 2015 Michigan Civic Health Index highlighted the vastly different civic profiles of millennials and the ÒsilentÓ generation, outlining how those differences can be addressed to promote a greater civic health in the state. This was just one of the many trends touched on by the report, which was released earlier in the month by the Michigan Nonprofit Association in conjunction with the National Conference on Citizenship. The report is designed to measure the stateÕs engagement in civic activities and to address glaring disparities via recommended courses of action. Generational differences were one focus of the report, which found that millennials (those born after 1981) were the generation least likely to engage in civic activities such as donating money to charity, attending public meetings and voting. On the other side of the spectrum, the ÒsilentÓ generation (born between 1931-1945) proved to be polar opposites with most members fully engaged in civic activity. The report recommended educators and employers connect the millennial generation, whether that be via high school and college service learning courses or employers of millennial employees helping to facilitate civic engagement. ÒThis is really the first time that weÕve had four generations (Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation) involved and volunteering in a big way,Ó said Rob Collier, president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations. ÒThe culture of millennials requires nonprofits to adjust their business models and to think about a different strategy to engage millennials and getting them to realize that theyÕre having an impact. ÒThe word ÔimpactÕ is not going away, especially in the nonprofit sector. ItÕs now part of the ongoing method we all operate under and part of it is driven by millennials.Ó When it comes to making social connections in the community, the millennial population, which includes 2.4 million people in Michigan, was not particularly engaged. Of all four generations, millennials were least likely to trust, talk to, do favors or work for neighbors. The index showed that 26 percent of millennials volunteer, compared to 35 percent of Gen Xers. Also, 31 percent of millennials reported having given $25 or more in charitable giving, which was easily last among the four generations. The ÒsilentÓ generation and baby boomers led charitable giving with 64 percent and 62 percent, respectively. The index also recommended that nonprofits and community leaders leverage the experience of the ÒsilentÓ generation, which leads in civic participation, by Òdeveloping intergenerational civic projects that will enable this senior generation to mentor members of those generations following it.Ó ÒFor an older Michigan Ñ itÕs great that we have an influx of millennials Ñ we have to tap our older generation, too,Ó Collier said. [email protected][id=114jbcurl1408]@

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