Millennials Unhappy With Status Quo, Believe in Voting, Report Finds

Millennials Unhappy With Status Quo, Believe in Voting, Report Finds

Millennials have grown vocal and visible in their frustrations with the status quo and increasingly are driven to act locally, a report from Achieve and the Case Foundation finds.

The 2017 Millennial Impact Report, Year in Review: An Invigorated Generation for Causes and Social Issues (27 pages, PDF) highlights key findings from three studies of millennials' (born between 1980 and 2000) attitudes toward and perceptions of social issues, as well as their engagement with those issues. The report found that more millennial women (59 percent) than men (39 percent) were dissatisfied with President Donald Trump; that African-American (69 percent), Asian-American (58 percent), and Latino/a (58 percent) millennials were significantly more likely than white (39 percent) millennials to be dissatisfied with Trump; and that 43 percent of all respondents said the president had not addressed the causes or issues important to them, while 21 percent were unsure.

The surveys also found that millennials remained most interested in causes and issues that affected them personally — including education, health care, and employment — while their interest in issues affecting the greater good — civil rights and racial discrimination, climate change, immigration, and net neutrality — fluctuated. According to the report, millennials are driven to engage locally more than nationally, and that even those who become involved with national organizations do not reduce their local activity as a result. Millennials also were more likely to engage locally with issues that affected them personally, to engage nationally with issues that affected society more broadly, and to engage both locally and nationally with issues of both personal and broader consequence.

In addition, the report found that while millennials did not more actively engage with causes after the election, majorities of respondents believe that voting is important (66 percent), that voting is a form of activism (71 percent), and that it is the duty of every citizen (77 percent). At the same time, respondents did not appear to use social media platforms to actively protest or promote causes/social issues of interest, in part because most view current online discourse as uncivil and do not engage in it.

The report's key takeaways and recommendations for nonprofit organizations include harnessing millennials' dissatisfaction with the status quo by demonstrating how they can be part of the solution and refocusing their messaging and operations to align with millennials' view of labels such as activist, supporter, donor, and volunteer as unimportant.

"The 2017 Millennial Impact Report continues a ten-year effort to examine how millennials view social engagement and activism," said Case Foundation CEO Jean Case. "This year's work focused on how the post-2016 election atmosphere impacted millennials' perspectives on social issues and how that has influenced their engagement on the issues that are key to them and their communities, locally and nationally. As young Americans continue to turn up to vote in lower numbers than older generations, we hope that millennials' eagerness to use their voice to effect change can turn this trend around in 2018 — and that, with the support of practitioners and organizers, we will see millennials step up as fully engaged citizens and voters."