Last month I shared some brief thoughts about the changing environment of nonprofits per the characteristics of Millenials.

A few weeks ago, Allison Fine participated in a live chat with the Chronicle of Philanthropy to discuss the topic of Engaging Millenials in Social Causes.  Quite a few people participated in the live discussion on the C of P website during the hour-long virtual event.  To reflect on some of the ideas and questions I raised in that previous post, I asked Allison:

How do you view the relationship between Millenials and older generations IN social media? Positive, negative, linear, hierarchical, leaders/followers, individuals, mentors/teachers, etc. And, do you think this relationship affects the conversations that nonprofits are trying to listen to, interact with, and learn from? Thanks!

I was thinking a lot about the way interactions and relationships between Millenials and those of older generations could effect the way organization adopt or integrate social media tools into their work.  Allison’s response was:

Hi, Amy, thanks for your question and the interesting thoughts on your blog last week. We provide astonishingly few opportunities for Millennials and older generations to use social media together. We’ve almost made it taboo, haven’t we? I would love to see younger people mentor older people on social media, what a great use of talents and skills! I think it would be a great way to unlock causes and organizations (again, back to provocative!) One of the most interesting aspects of Causes on Facebook is that there are so many causes for each issue. Take Darfur, for example. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Causes on Facebook dedicated to this issue. Before, in the proprietary age, people interested in this issue would have been largely locked into one or two organizations they knew about.

This is a long way to say that I think your interest in this area is right on the money and I would love to see more mentoring and more conversations between young and old people online or on Causes.org or even on Twitter (!) about issues that concern us all.

So, now I’m thinking about ways that organizations can use social media tools in a meaningful way that also allows all supporters (Millenials and beyond) to interact with each other.  How does your organization create places, on or offline, for supporters of all ages to interact or spread your work on behalf of the organization (fundraising, communications, etc.)?

You can read the other questions and answers from the Chronicle of Philanthropy live discussion with Allison Fine on the C of P website, here.

More thoughts on Millenials
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  • Hi Amy,
    Prolix comment – sorry for the space.

    I’m so interested in this concept/idea… as a language arts teacher, how do I not only incorporate technology in my class (next year, I’m excited to roll out MOODLE-integrated curriculum – MOODLE is a thingee that allows interaction and activities before and after class to happen in a shared, built learning environment – so an assignment for one class period or unit could be a wiki or online quiz/survey or blog-like activity) Do you know about MOODLE in schools?

    So… I agree that the young millenials need to interact with older people, and they are gifted social networkers, so… instead of visiting nursing homes, how could a language arts teacher help teens interact with the older general populace?

    There seems to be a stigma or barrier against this with all of the inflated pedophile stories out there, and students generally find it amusing when we become “friends” through a site like myspace. I suppose MOODLE might help – perhaps I should invite older/non-teenage people to interact with the class on MOODLE? Like people who want to become English teachers or I could hit up book clubs at libraries, who are mostly older women, have them come to class, have the students teach them about MOODLE and then have them be a part of our MOODLE activities as we read and reflect?… Kind of like how some universities allow really old people to come to classes for free?… what do you think?

    I think that a major goal/mission of mine is for my students to learn how to channel their hyper-social networking skills for GOOD/education… so that when they are fiddling with their laptops during a large hall lecture in college, they aren’t playing scrabble on facebook but connecting with people about a variety of interpretations and resources on the subject they should be attentively listening to in the lecture hall.

    Do you think there is a gender gap in millenial tech-psychology? At my school boys far out number girls in tech classes that teach how to build, design and “own” technology? I think girls LOVE the social networking aspect of technology (myself included) – but I think that most girls (again, myself included) – use this attraction to social networking as a source of social aggression/bullying and/or are victims of it… and this is why girls may have been both “burned” by the exciting aspect of social networking/communication or see it as a tool for dominating relationships with other people… perhaps MOODLE will help democratize and delimit these distractions and obsessional relationships some teens have with technology?

    What do you think about a “[Rock/]Tech n’ Roll Camp for Girls”? I bet something like that exists in Portland?

    Have you researched how other countries use technology/web to connect non-profits or to communicate within non-profits? I wonder how other countries connect education to the local community/world through technology. I wonder how these gender and age gaps with technology work in other countries.
    Lots of thoughts. I think I’ll post these ideas on my blog 🙂

  • Hey Cat!

    Thanks for such an incredibly thoughtful comment and conversation!

    First, I’m glad you are excited about connec+ipedia and the changing ways technology provides for online collaboration and shared learning. You can check out Wagn (http://wagn.org) if you want to, it is the program connec+ipedia runs on. It is free and open source, so you can download wagn and install/start running your own tool (for private use in the classroom) or public. If you want to learn about great ways to use wiki and other tools in the classroom, talk to Vickie Davis (smartest and coolest teacher using tech!): blog – http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/

    Yes, I know about moodle and think it is a very dynamic tool (maybe I should post about it as it’s now on my mind!).

    I think that using an online tool (like moodle or a wiki, etc.) would be a great place to get your students interacting in new ways with information and each other, and to invite speakers or guests to the classroom to also participate online. Bringing together on and offline activities really helps solidy lessons but also create a space for ongoing conversation.

    There are many articles and studies examining the role girls vs boys have in social media. Here are two great links:
    Pew Internet Study on Teen Use: http://www.pewinternet.org/ppf/r/166/report_display.asp
    New York Times article on Girls Using Tech: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/fashion/21webgirls.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    There is quite a bit happening in other countries with nonprofit tech and edutech (as it is sometimes called). If you want a great contact for edutech, here are a few:

    http://aquaculturepda.edublogs.org/
    http://michelemartin.typepad.com/
    http://christytucker.wordpress.com/
    http://langwitches.org/blog/
    http://sarah-stewart.blogspot.com/

    Thanks so much for sharing all of your great questions! I’m looking forward to thinking about them outloud on the blog in additional posts; looking forward to your post as well!

    Thanks!