The Millennials Approach to Fundraising

There are a lot of statistics on the millennial generation. The latest one I read states that in just five years millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce. It’s widely known that this key generation of workers has a different view on everything—from career aspirations to work culture—and are hyperaware of corporate social responsibility efforts. I for one couldn’t be happier knowing this because I’ve seen firsthand the fresh perspective and fearlessness they bring.

Each summer, Avnet offers a 12-week, project-based, paid internship that provides undergraduate college students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in a global Fortune 500 company. One of the interns’ first projects entails helping in the community. During orientation week, this year’s 67 interns helped refresh the playgrounds and outside areas of Homeward Bound, an organization that provides traditional housing and services to women and children fleeing domestic violence or homelessness.

But their community commitment didn’t stop there. They brought a new spirit to our annual back-to-school fundraiser that supports Operation Back to School Chandler, an organization that provides underprivileged students with backpacks, school supplies, shoes, socks, underwear and uniforms.

In my last blog, I highlighted some of the ways our offices have fun while fundraising. Our interns took it to a new level this summer by initiating the mascot wars, bringing a different level of engagement, spirit and competition to our fundraising environment.

The back-to-school themed mascot wars engaged the competitive and prideful spirit of anyone loyal to their college alma mater. Employees made charitable donations to have their school’s mascot placed on the office door or cubicle of a coworker. These coworkers could then make a charitable donation to repay the favor by tagging their coworker with their school’s mascot, or pay to have their door or cubicle untagged entirely.

With an office full of rival Arizona State University and University of Arizona graduates, along with feisty University of Michigan and Ohio State University alumni to name a few, the tagging was fast and furious. Our Avnet Executive Board members got involved, too. Our CEO Rick Hamada’s door was covered in mascot tags, and one Ohio State University alumni was the recipient of 42 Michigan tags.

Not only did the mascot wars raise more than $2,200 and fill 320 backpacks with supplies, it also raised a lot of discussion about best college teams and best practices for fundraising. Our interns have been asked to help create a few more new ideas for fundraising before they head back to school. Their insight, spirit and fearlessness has left a lasting impression, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years look like as more millennials enter the workforce.

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