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Studies show millennials are more charitable than previous generations

December 5, 2014

Millennials give and volunteer at a higher rate than previous generations according to Pew Research and “Points of Light,” a non-profit clearing house, and Paul Shepherd, UW-River Falls director of Student Life, agrees.

Shepherd has seen increased interest in the Destination program offered at UWRF and other service related activities by students. Destination is a program for students, offering volunteer opportunities locally, nationally or internationally. Destination locations and volunteer jobs are geared to specific causes and issues. Students can choose where and how they will volunteer.

Shepherd also said the majority of student organizations on campus engage in service work as a group activity. Sororities and fraternities are usually required to perform service related activities by their national organization. He has seen an increase in student volunteerism.

Shepherd said volunteerism is an important activity for students and said, “Volunteerism and service related programming is the start of building a sense of responsibility for community among students.”

Pew and Points of Light identify upward trends toward individual giving of both time and resources by millennials. Millennials are surpassing other generations with their generosity and service. One theme researchers have found is millennials want to personally be informed and care about the causes they donate to.

“Donate.ly” is a website devoted to information and resources relating to fundraising. Founder Javan Van Gronigen said, “Before our generation, you saw my parents would be like, ‘Oh, we want to give to the Red Cross.’ My generation would say we want to give to education or to fighting child slavery. Now it’s going even deeper and the next generation is saying, ‘I want to save that person right there.’”

Javin Hintz, volunteer services coordinator at “Turningpoint” for victims of domestic and sexual violence tells students volunteerism is “a great way to give back to the community and also develop skills that people can use going forward. It looks great on a resume for students as well. You can often take your personal experiences and use that as a way to give back and also gain the experiences and you can utilize those in the future.”

Turningpoint has had a lot of UWRF student volunteers over the years and welcomes new applications.

“I [have been] a volunteer on the fire department for a long time. I am from Milladore, Wisconsin, and I volunteer on a local department called ‘Sherry Fire and Rescue’ where all members are strictly volunteer,” said Heather Nigh, a sophomore dairy science major at UWRF.

Nigh’s father and brothers are also volunteer firemen so she said it runs in the family. Nigh has also volunteered for several charities at UWRF.

Shepherd says he has no data to back up his observation, but he says he thinks students who have volunteered at home, before college are far more likely to volunteer once at school.

His observations match surveys from Points of Light and Pew, among others.

“Volunteerism in college instills in students a civic responsibility and many go on to volunteer the rest of their lives,” Shepherd said.

In an informal poll of 42 students in Kleinpell Fine Arts three weeks ago, 21 students say they volunteer on campus and 16 out of the 21 volunteered in their home town before attending UWRF.

Vern Breault Jr., an art major at UWRF, volunteered anything artistic his old school needed done, including painting team logos on the football field on a regular basis. He has participated in a couple of food drives at UWRF.

Breault said he volunteers “because it helps out and I will absolutely volunteer again.”

There are 42 different organizations listed at FalconSync to choose from as service opportunities, and according to Shepherd, UWRF partners with around 100 different non-profit organizations.

FalconSync has more information about volunteer opportunities or Student Life can help students find a cause to get involved in.

Student Life can be reached at 715-425-4444 or visit them at the University Center.