post written by Jereme Bivins, a winner of a FREE REG to #MCON2012!
MCON, a conference dedicated to the impact of millennials in the social sector, rocked the digital space with an all-day livestream of expert speakers, virtual exhibition hall, and online networking events. Needless to say, this was a techie’s fantasy conference come true. Now after listening to the MCON session presenters, dutifully taking notes (read: Tweeting), and thinking about how each lesson might apply to me and my organization, I distilled three invaluable points from Jean Case that deserve deeper reflection:
1) Failure is flattering
Much of what we do and don’t do is governed by our fear — fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, fear of hurting someone’s feelings, and most often, fear of failure. But failure’s not always a bad thing. Failure teaches us what doesn’t work, so that we can correct our mistakes and try something new. Now think of how we treat fear in our personal lives, that treatment is ten-fold for organizations. Before we launch any campaign, press release, direct mail, email, or even tweet, we have to be sure that everything is perfect. There’s no margin for error. Failure is not an option.
However what’s true about failure in our personal lives must be a celebrated part of our organizational culture. It’s alright to fail, provided that we learn from our mistakes. It’s how we grow, how things change, and how innovation happens. So maybe failure’s really not so bad.
Remember: Fail quickly, fail forward.
flickr photo by Navicore
2) Slacktivism is a myth
The Millennial generation is notorious for slacktivism. Millennials claim to care about causes, say they want to be involved, but they don’t give money and they don’t give their time. Therefore, they are slacktivists. Wrong.
According to the Millennial Impact Report, 75% of millennials made a gift in 2011 (which is pretty good considering the high levels of unemployment among that group). Of that group interested in helping a cause, 16% said they’d give money again, 47% said they’d give time, and 37% said they’d give both. They don’t sound like slacktivists to me. It seems more likely that many organizations just haven’t found effective ways to reach them. As the most highly-connected (read: technology addicted) generation in history, has your organization instituted a mobile strategy? Do you use social media to cultivate and build relationships with younger constituents? Orgazniations like DoSomething.org have and with fantastic success. Millennials want to help, you just have to engage them where they are: mobile devices, social networks, and at offline events.
3) It’s a new day for philanthropy
Philanthropy means ‘the love of humanity’, yet often when we hear the word, visions of old men, or immensely endowed organizations cutting multi-million dollar checks are immediately conjured. While these people and institutions do exist, that’s not the entire foundation of philanthropy. The philanthropic sector is changing, adapting, and growing. There are new ways for all of us to contribute besides writing grandiose checks: micro and standard volunteer opportunities, pro-bono work, smaller monthly donations, converting our friends, serving on a nonprofit board, etc. However we feel we can make a difference, we should do so. Organizations that are nimble enough to cater to this new wave of donors and volunteers will reap the reward of their contributions, both in the short and long terms.
So one day later, I’m pledging to Be Fearless, find new ways to make a difference, and get other millennials involved in social good. Because real change only comes from fearlessly trying new things, and slacktivism is just an urban legend.
What did you learn from MCON this year?