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On this weeks episode of Bloomerang TV, Derrick Feldmann of Achieve makes his triumphant return to talk about the new Millennial Impact Report and MCON 2015.

Full Transcript:

Steven: Hey there. Welcome to this week’s episode of Bloomerang TV. Thanks for tuning in. It’s June. It’s my favorite month of the year. It’s my birthday month, but also there’s two really cool things happening in June. One, an awesome event, MCON, which everyone should go to. And two, an awesome report is coming out that is been out the last maybe four or five years, I think, The Millennial Impact Report comes out this month. And I’ve got Derrick Feldmann. He’s the president of Achieve here and he’s responsible for both those awesome things. So, Hey Derrick. How’s it going?

Derrick: Hey. Good to be here.

Steven: Before you go into those things, I want you to talk all about it, just in case people don’t know who you are, which I think maybe one person out of everyone who watches this won’t know Derrick. Just in case, you talk about Achieve, and what you guys are up to these days?

Derrick: Sure. Achieve is a research and campaigns agency. Our primary piece that we do is research to understand why donors behave the way they do and more in the practitioner market research angle. And then we inform organizations on how to improve everything from messaging, solicitations, all that stuff. We’re most notably, in the field, as the producers and researchers for The Millennial Impact Project which is support by the Case Foundation, Steve and Jean Case, founders of AOL. That project had started in 2010 and… well actually it started in 2009, but you don’t really produce the first reports until 2010, so technically ’09.

But since then we’ve had about six or seven different reports to try and understand why and how this generation of 20 to 30-year-olds is doing what they’re doing with causes. It’s interesting because at the time in 2009 the concept or even the name, Millennial, was hardly even referenced. And today you can hardly go out with anything without hearing that title.

Steven: It’s because of you.

Derrick: I don’t know about that.

Steven: A lot of people are paying it lip service but you guys are… I mean these reports are chalk full of awesome information, like meaningful information. And one thing I like about them is you kind of take a different angle each year of what you actually look like. What are you going to look at in the upcoming report for 2015?

Derrick: So the first four years was primarily focused on how Millennials are engaging directly with causes. So this is from the fund-raising, solicitation, marketing, communications, digital side. And then last year and this year our focus is on the workplace because that’s the most influential place where we spend about 47 hours a week there or more sometimes in our personal time. So last year was just to get a sense of what activities are occurring. This year we took a different angle and this is really, really important for non-profit causes that are part of yours and others, is we looked at influence. What is the influence in the work place that makes the Millennial do what they do with causes.

And I’ll tell you what. There’s one person that you really need on board and their title is not CEO. It’s title is Manager. In this year’s report we’ll talk about how managers either influence or quite honestly, dissuaded participation with causes because of their own personal experience, because of what they are told to do, or something that maybe they even made up at times as well. What’s also cool about this year’s report that we looked at, companies of all sizes and a national sample.

So what that means is that with this really huge company, technology company that’s got about 75,000 workers, employees, all the way down to a small business. And we compared what participation is for Millennials and each one of those different sized companies, from a large cap to a mid cap to a small cap to a small business, and just a regular sample of people who just go to work. So we’ll be able to tell you here in June 24th and 25th how life is a little bit different at different sized companies and where that influence is really coming from.

Steven: I don’t want you to give to much away because I want people to download and read the report but were you satisfied? Are you worried about some the things you discovered in terms of employee engagement and what those managers actually are doing in terms of encouraging volunteerism and giving? What’s your sense of where we actually stand in employee engagement?

Derrick: Now, more than ever, we’ve got a group of people this generation that wants to do good, right? So I call them these Big Cause Enthusiasts. It’s the job of any non-profit marketer or fundraiser to try and activate them. This generation has had things like service in schools and learning and giving programs, dance marathons, all these types of things that are out there to try and influence philanthropic behavior. What we’ve discovered, though, is that can be really shattered when they get in certain scenarios. It’s even shattered too when their own peers say to them, “Don’t do this” or “Don’t get involved.” They influence them negatively.

What was really exciting to see is that the managers who believe strongly or had their own great personal experiences with causes, being on board, volunteering, giving themselves, participating and giving days, all those different types of things. We saw them really take that benefit in the company and exploit it for their team, which was great. I think what was challenging, though, is that there are some managers who historically were not as active or as involved or didn’t look at causes as it benefits the culture overall and unfortunately, the Millennial wasn’t active with them.

What’s also really interesting about this, and this is what we tried to look at across the years, is that because a Millennial doesn’t act doesn’t mean that they’re not interested. Our first thing is well, we sent this solicitation out, we sent this marketing message out, and they just weren’t interested. There are factors that happen that make somebody do or get or participate. It could’ve been that the message was wrong. Could’ve been that really crappy email that they sent. It could’ve been something else. Well in this case we’re finding that when they’re in the 8 to 5, 8 to 6 time-frame during the day and they’re looking to their manager for advise, counsel, support, both in personal and professional at times, they’re the ones that are really crafting that participation.

I encourage that causes today, look at the work place and say, “We want to buy in at the top but we’re going to work incredibly hard to get our managers and all the different teams and companies to talk about our cause, to get them involved in giving aspects, to get them doing things with us. It’s because, primarily, and this is what you’ve seen too with Bloomerang. You create tools now that allows any individual to raise support to go out, get involved with a cause, because we have made the action of getting involved with causes really democratized, right? It’s all the way down to the individual level. In companies, it’s happening that culture is there too where power now is even at the more localized team based level than it ever has been before. Creating tools for that. Creating ways in which that manager can be successful with a team is so imperative.

Steven: Makes a lot sense. I think most non-profits don’t even think to target that managerial level in terms of reaching out to donors. They just try to get them directly. That makes a ton of sense.

Derrick: It’s interesting because we follow Millennials as they’re in the work place. We’ll report and then we’ll keep on reporting throughout some panel behavior that we’ve seen. What’s interesting is that as you look at it we’ll even see things that come out from the C-level suite that says, “You need to participate in this.” Well, I don’t know about you but when my mom said I had to eat broccoli, I really hated it. I avoided it at all costs. It’s not that they disrespect. It’s just that when you’re told in that manner that this is where you need to spend your passion time, your empathy time, the community time for something that you’re not passionate about. It’s going to be very difficult.

Steven: Yep. Absolutely. Awesome report coming out. It coincides with MCON which is such a unique event. There’s nothing like it in terms of the caliber and pedigree of the speakers and the different kinds of people you bring together. For-profits can benefit from the information that’s shared. Certainly non-profits can. Can you talk a little bit about who you’ve got on board for MCON and what people can expect to attend?

Derrick: This is our, it’s crazy to think about it, but it’s actually our fifth year of it. It all started in a complete online model. We’re going to bring all these speakers together and great content and stream it out. We get about 18 to 20,000 people attending online, which is really interesting because I think we did the model backwards where most people create a conference now and figure out how to go online. We went online and did that. We call it our viewing audience, that’s there. And they get really great hands-on participation from the speakers. So we have a really small audience in person.

This year our focus is on influence. It kind of goes back to the report as well. We studied activity. We studied why it happens. But now we also want to get into how can we leverage more? How can we influence people to do more things? And so this year we looked at influence through four major spaces. Art, media, business, and place. How are artists using their own influence? So we have Marc Roberge who’s the front man for OAR who all of their new material is all based on humanitarian. Also some really interesting things and things of how they’ve used art to influence their following to try and act for causes in some way.

We’ll have the CEO Gary Knell from National Geographic. National Geographic is an older entity. This is an entity that sponsors changes. They’re a very multimedia platform and they have to accommodate all demographics. They’ve come up with some very interesting tactics that they’ve used to try and influence. Experiential, because it’s a huge experiential consumer base that they’ve got to get them to participate in this concept of conservation in other ways.

In addition to that, in media, it’s hard to ignore what the media is doing. We’ve got the founder of Upworthy. He’s going to talk about how they started out and what’s their using messages and so forth. And then even in the play section, we’re looking at how neighborhoods are doing the things that they have. So we’ve got some individuals from Detroit who are changing the neighborhood model as well. Carol Coletta with the Knight Foundation and all the things that they’ve seen around the country. In the arts space, we’ve got Sarah Urist Green, The Art Assignment, who will be talking about some of the influential things that they’re doing in the art area to try and get people to do art anytime and anywhere through these small and different types of assignments.

We’ve also got Jonathan Neman who is the CEO of Sweetgreen, which I haven’t been there, it’s more in the Northeast and in Chicago too. Sweetgreen is a very similar concept to Chipotle, more in the environment area. Huge philanthropic piece. He’s a young CEO entrepreneur. He’s got a lot of different types of VC money going out there with a different model than typically. And then even an older type organization that’s shifting, Vicki with Opportunity International. She’s the CEO. We’ll be talking about how we as a traditional organization is mounting a new movement with other people. All different types.

I think the one thing that’s really good about MCON is if you are a fundraiser, there’s stuff for you to learn about how people today take in messages and content and information and act. If you’re a marketer you want to figure out how these people have… you know, Upworthy is the best at some of the content marketing I’ve ever seen. Medium is out there. We’ll have them there. All different types who are dong different platforms. If you’re a business, we’ve got you too. We’ve got different businesses that will be there talking about what they have. Daniel Lubetzky, with Kind Snacks, who’s the CEO there and the Founder and his new book, Do the Kind Thing. All of these different models that are used they are there. So everybody can typically end and leave MCON with some good ideas, non-profits or for-profit to get going.

Steven: Lots of things to learn. I like that fundraisers can go and get content that they’re not going to get from a typical non-profit conference where it’s just CFREs and pundits. It’s all good, but they’re going to learn some really cool things that can inform their efforts and maybe in a way they didn’t think possible. And the live-stream is free, right? You don’t even need a ticket.

Derrick: You know, this is where we have to thank the Case Foundation, American Express, in particular, for allowing anybody in our field, anybody anywhere to access the content for free online. So tune in June 24th and 25th. We start at… we have a morning show that’s sort of our pre-show that begins at 8 a.m. Central time. Central time. I know the west coasters usually will hit us up on Twitter and tell us it’s a little too early. We know it. It happens every year, but we start the real show at 9 a.m. Central time in Chicago. It’s at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. We do have a few tickets left.

Steven: It’s cool in person. I know the live-stream is great that it’s free but it is fun in person. I’ll be there in person. So if you want to buy a ticket…

Derrick: I think a couple a really great features that we have this year in addition. We partnered with John Green on something. I’ll give you that little hint.

Steven: An indy connection. Okay.

Derrick: Yeah. We also will be doing a dinner event and we’ll be asking our online audience to have their own dinner called On The Table. We partnered with the Chicago Community Trust and they did a program called On The Table where they got about 6000 people to hold dinner parties in Chicago to come up with a mass of big ideas for Chicago. That will happen too. We’ll have some tool kits and some resources for people to do at home. And the best ideas will be coming back to MCON next year to talk about them. We’ll build that in as well.

And then of course as you mentioned first thing on the 24th go to the Millennial Impact and MCON, you can download the research. It will all be there available that morning. You’ll be able to download infographics, different types of things too as well. That will be set

Steven: Do what you’ve got to do it all. Go to live-stream. If you’re close to Chicago… I’m going to take a train so I’ll be there for sure.

Derrick: Museum of Contemporary Art is a great facility.

Steven: Well cool. We’ll link all this stuff. We’ll get this in front of people, Derrick. This was awesome. Thanks for all the work you do making all this happen especially on the things that are free. It’s a really cool of you.

Derrick: Well thanks so much and always a pleasure for sure, Steven.

Steven: We’ll catch you next week with another great episode. Thanks for hanging out a few minutes. We will catch you again with our next episode of Bloomerang TV. So bye now.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.