Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reaching Across Generations

How are you involving millenials in your organization's work? This is a question we've all been hearing a lot lately. But I'm not sure that I like some of the answers.

I've been in several conversations and meetings in recent months where the idea of creating a "millenial advisory group" was brought up. It was generally agreed among my peers (those of us between 40 and 65) that the younger generation may not be ready for the responsibility of being on a board of directors.

"Oh, they're too busy with their careers, or starting families, or doing whatever it is they do with their tweet machines..." And yet, everybody nods and agrees that without the active involvement of millenials, their development of new donors and volunteers is dead in the water.

And so, the Millenial Advisory Group. A group of young folk to come up with recommendations for the groups of older folk to consider: a committee to involve millenials without actually having to talk to them directly.

At one recent meeting where this idea was being presented, I turned to the 20-something person beside me and asked, "Does any of this sound at all patronizing to you?" She glanced quickly to each side before giving a quick nod and quietly saying, "A little bit."

The question isn't whether or not you're going to invite millenials to the table. The question is whether you're going to invite them to the adults table in the dining room, or send them off to the kids table in the kitchen.

Instead of a "Millenial Advisory Committee" why not just add a few millenials to your existing Volunteer Outreach Committee or your Development & Communications Committee? And if you don't have any such committees already, maybe that's why your organization is failing to attract new donors or volunteers.

Just a thought...