October 12, 2017
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These are the 5 causes Millennials care about the most

A new report shows that young people who are passionate about social issues are turning their interest to activism

The latest Millennial Impact Report shows an increase in engagement in causes that Millennials care about, compared to 2016. The report also reveals that young people view voting as a vital form of activism. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The next generation of changemakers in America is finding its voice, and they are taking action, whether it’s through voting, marching, or signing a petition.

The latest report from the Millennial Impact Project, an annual survey of young people’s involvement with cause work, reveals how the generation born between 1980-2000 is supporting the causes they care about.

Conducted annually since 2009, the survey seeks to understand a generation that has the potential to transform activism and how we support social causes in America. The study is a partnership between Achieve, a research and marketing agency for causes, and The Case Foundation, founded by digital pioneers Jean and Steve Case. Since its launch, researchers have collected data from more than 100,000 respondents.

In conducting their survey this year—which takes place throughout 2017—researchers have found that Millennials’ interest in social issues had evolved and engagement in those issues had “increased and intensified” since 2016.

“Millennials are undoubtedly altering today’s models of giving and society’s perceptions of how to create change locally, nationally, and globally,” wrote Derrick Feldmann, president of Achieve and the study’s lead researcher. “The first generation to grow up with digital outlets for their voices is turning them into megaphones for good.”

In the latest phase of the 2017 report, conducted between July 19 and Aug. 8, respondents viewed civil rights and racial discrimination as the top cause they cared about (29 percent), followed closely by employment and healthcare reform (tied at 26 percent). This is a change from the 2016 report, which revealed that Millennials’ top concerns were education and employment/wages, followed by either healthcare or the economy.

What causes do young people care about the most?

Here are the top 5 social issues of most interest, as rated by respondents of the latest Millennial Impact Report. Each respondent was asked to choose between one to three issues, so these figures won't total 100 percent.

Source: 2017 Millennial Impact Report

*Respondents also sited wages (15%), environment (14%), college/post-secondary education (13%), poverty and homelessness (13%), mental health and social services (12%), criminal justice reform (11%), women’s rights (10%), women’s health and reproductive issues (9%), early education (8%), sexual orientation-based rights (8%), and literacy (4%) as issues they care about.

Researchers also asked respondents what types of actions they take on behalf of the causes important to them. Voting topped the list, in order or priority, followed by signing a petition, no action, posting on social media, and changing purchase of products and services. Voting, researchers surmised, is seen as a vital form of activism; the survey found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents said they had voted in the 2016 presidential election.

The 2017 Millennial Impact Report used a sample size of 3,000. Phase 1 was conducted in April and included interviews and focus groups. Phase 2, which was completed this summer, included the survey results shown above. Phase 3 will be a more in-depth qualitative analysis of participants’ daily lives, including social media behavior. This final phase will complete the 2017 study.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.