The holidays are rapidly approaching and as a millennial, I’ve been thinking about the role that volunteering and social responsibility play this time of year.

Now, if you’ve read the data, you’d already know that my inclination to ask this question given my age isn’t surprising. In fact, Nielsen’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report found that 73 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from an organization committed to sustainable environmental practices.

Research proves there is a direct payoff for companies that are intentional in their environmental and social responsibility commitments and actions.

This thought isn’t just for marketers, but recruiters as well, as my colleague Julie McCracken alluded to her in recent Buzz Bin post.

Below is a breakdown of the data on each generation’s opinions-of and contributions-to social good and how that affects the way we can market, recruit or keep them engaged.

Gen Z

  • 72 percent of Gen Z (up from 55 percent the year prior) are willing to spend more on products that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact (Nielsen, 2015)
  • Gen Z “are already inspiring attitudes and behaviors among consumers of all ages to enact change for the good” (Ford, 2015)

What does this mean? Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is table stakes for this generation. They’re maturing during an age of skepticism and curiosity and see their peers and millennial siblings rewarded for challenging the status quo. There’s a good chance that if you don’t have an impact platform ready to go, they’ll overlook you (as an employer or brand).


  • 81 percent of millennials expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship (Nielsen, 2015)
  • Almost two-thirds (66 percent) of millennials (18-34) are likely to invest stock in a company well-known for its CSR program (Aflac, 2015)
  • 40 percent of millennials want employers that model the importance of being active or giving back to the community, compared to 28 percent Gen Z, 32 percent Gen X and 37 percent Boomers (Padilla In-House Global Research Firm SMS Research Advisors)

What does this mean? This generation distrusts marketing and specifically selects companies they want to purchase products from based on social good. If you’re looking to focus on attracting this audience, it’s critical you build a CSR component to your business and be ready to explain why it didn’t exist already. This is another group that CSR is a requirement for and serves as a major factor in their decision making for purchase and employment.

Gen X

  • Gen Xers are 10 percent less likely than twenty-somethings to find it important that their work involve giving back (Harvard Business Review, 2009)
  • Due to lack of time, Gen Xers tend to passively participate in volunteering unless it’s possible during work hours or through their children’s school (Getting Gen

What does this mean? You won’t lose a Gen X audience if you don’t have a strong CSR platform. But having one is still effective in influencing their purchase and employment decisions. As an employer, look for ways to incorporate giving back within working hours that won’t make Gen X choose between volunteering and getting dinner on the table.


  • 51 percent of Boomers (up from 44 percent the year prior) are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand (Nielsen, 2015)
  • 86 percent of Boomers and 85 percent of millennials say it’s important that their work involve giving back (Harvard Business Review, 2009)

What does this mean? Our own Dan Reilly from SMS Research Advisors explained in the Padilla POV Series on Boomers that this generation is truly committed to helping mentor others. To attract their buying power, build a program that shows them your company’s altruism for learning, sharing and giving. Employers should give this group opportunities to share their experience and help others grow during working hours, as Samantha Cox mentioned earlier this year.

Despite all this supportive data, keep in mind that consumers today are still skeptical about your true intentions. In fact, only half of America (45 percent) thinks companies launch CSR programs because it’s the right thing to do. And 40 percent think brands do it to improve their image.

If you need help on conceptualizing a CSR effort that will stick, email me at [email protected] and I can help get the conversation started.

Also, interested in learning more about our Padilla POV on the boomer audience? Check out the recording from our fall event here: