Yesterday we wrote about the impact online social media will have on the pursuit of public interest goals.

And we noted that for most nonprofits, most of whose constituencies still tilt toward Boomers and older (at least in terms of active donors), this new media wave is still out there on the horizon line. Right now the wave is surfed mainly by under-30s.

But it’s not too early to learn about these "kids" and how they use media.

Allison Fine has written a terrific paper for the Case Foundation that should be the first stop in your educational process.

She characterizes this age cohort — the Millennials (age 15-29) — as "Social Citizens" (though she notes that not all Millennials are Social Citizens, and vice versa) and describes them thusly:

"Millennials are hands-on ‘experience seekers’ who don’t trust the reporting of others. They want to experience change, to touch and feel it, and they want a menu of options for acting now and seeing results in real time for real people."

How well can your nonprofit deliver against that expectation?!

Further:

"For young people, digital connectedness is as natural to their way of being as telephones and rock music were to their parents. More than 20 million teenagers use the Internet daily. Eighty percent of teens have mobile phones. Three-quarters of them read news online, and more than half have accounts on social networking sites."

Allison’s reference to "digital connectedness" as "natural to their way of being" nails it for me. The relation of under-30s to media is so different — than that of even the most wired of us Boomers and elders — that we can scarcely do more than look on and try feebly to anticipate some of the consequences!

Allison’s paper is an enormous help. Allison, you deserve a raise!

Tom

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