Millennials have received a bad reputation from other generations as being entitled, selfish, and socially inconsiderate. However, this really isn't the case. I promise I'm not just saying that as a biased millennial either. According to the 2012 Millennial Impact Report, 73% of millennials volunteered for a nonprofit organization. Four out of five volunteers said that they did so because of their passion for the cause.
Some people may argue that millennials are only donating their time, but that isn't the case either. Research also showed that nearly 83% of young Americans donated money to a nonprofit last year. Clearly our generation is one who desires to be involved and be active members of our communities.
1. Join the Rotary Club or Young Professionals Group
Rotary is an international service organization that has the motto: “Service Above Self.” Their purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards, and advance goodwill and peace around the world. A total of 1.2 million individuals work hard in their local clubs to tackle their communities' toughest challenges and bring about positive change.
Young Professionals groups can be found in most towns and have nation-wide groups that are primarily focused on bringing together young influential members of communities and creating a strong network for these individuals to draw upon and continue to build their careers.
2. Vote in Every Election
One of the most important aspects of being an active members of society is voting in every election. Despite the importance of voting, research done by the Knight Foundation found that only one in five eligible voters show up for mayoral elections. A more discouraging statistic is that young people vote at lower rates in local elections than any other group.
Local elections have the biggest immediate impact on our daily lives. Who your community elects will determine how your neighborhoods look and feel, whether and how our streets are kept clean and safe, how our roads and transit work, what it’s like to have a job, start a business, and have kids in the places we live. Politics aren't the most appealing act of community activism for millennials to participate in but nonetheless an important one.
3. Know Your City Councilors
While this may be another less glamorous side of community activism, your city councilors are the people who affect change in your city. It's their job is to listen to what their constituents want and need. If you have a problem or see something that you think needs to be changed, visit with a local city official. If they don't know what people want, they won't be able to do anything about it. Additionally, if you are ever curious about things happening in your town, city council meetings are open to the public.
4. Shop Locally
One easy way to get involved in your community and support your neighbors is by shopping locally. By forgoing big chain stores and giant corporations that dominate the economy, you're supporting local entrepreneurs and putting money straight back into your local area.
Also, getting to know local business owners can be very beneficial in building your local network. Reach out to your Chamber of Commerce for the businesses and their owners in your town.
Another way to find local businesses to support is on Etsy. Many independent artists and creators use Etsy to sell their items online. You can search on the site for your city or town to find people in your area who are selling products. Start shopping on Etsy today!
5. Get Involved through a Religions Organization
If you are a religious person, getting involved in an organization that aligns with your beliefs is another way to be active in your community. Being an active member will allow you to meet a lot of people, volunteer for worthy causes, and connect with a higher purpose. Religious organizations always have events going on in your local area from book clubs to softball leagues.
One of the most meaningful ways to get involved in your community is to volunteer your time and energy into an organization or group that you feel passionately about. Volunteering will not only help you become a more well-rounded person but also connect you to many other individuals who you may not have been introduced to otherwise. Some examples of large organizations that have local branches all across the country are:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
- Humane Society of the United States
- Habitat for Humanity
- American Red Cross
- United Way Worldwide
Other volunteering options include retirement homes, after-school programs, public libraries, and soup kitchens.
The most important thing to remember about volunteering your time is that you will get just as much out of the experience as you give to the greater good. This is especially true if you are contributing to a cause or organization that you feel passionate about.
7. Attend Philanthropic Events
This option may not seem like something that many millennials would want to do in their spare time. Local philanthropic events are typically where influential and important members of your community will go to donate their money to good causes and socialize with others. It is an excellent place to connect with important individuals in your town who will appreciate seeing a civic-minded and conscientious young person.
8. Organize a Block Party
While we may know our neighbors from a friendly conversation while getting the mail or waving as you pass them on your way to work, not many millennials have close ties with their neighbors. One way to get to know the people who live near you is to host a block party.
Have everyone set up food, drinks, and seating areas in one spot on your street and have it be a come and go event after the workday or on the weekend. Such a great, simple way to get to know one another better.
9. Check out your Community Calendar
Simply Google “name of your town, community event calendar” and a list of upcoming events in your area should pop up. Whether there's a local film festival, an art gallery opening, or a BBQ in the park, most of these events are free. They also give you a perfect way to get involved, have a great time, and meet people in your community.
10. Beautify the City
Do you ever pass by an empty planter outside your favorite coffee shop or see a huge space of empty land without a tree in sight? Why not get a group of your friends together, pitch in for some new flowers or a small tree, and spend an hour or two of your time making your city a more beautiful place that you are proud to call home? In addition to beautifying your city, you will also be helping the environment.
11. Get a new hobby
Maybe you've been feeling the urge lately to learn how to write a short story or how to perfect your yoga poses. Think about taking a class either through your local community college or public library. There should be options that are low-cost or free! Then, while you acquire a new skill, you're also meeting new people.
If you want to learn more about finding your new favorite hobby, read our article How To Get Started With A New Hobby Today!
12. Start a Group or Organization
Maybe there is a particular cause that you feel very passionately about that isn't already being represented in your community. Another fact found in the Millennial Impact Report was that more than half of young people are motivated to volunteer by their interest in meeting like-minded people. You can bring people together for a common goal by finding a need within your community and addressing it.
These are just a few simple ways to get involved in your community. If you have any other ideas, feel free to share those in the comments below! Let's continue to break down generational stereotypes by proving that millennials really are civic-minded individuals who are involved in their communities.