Nonprofits Turn to Millennials to Be Experts on Themselves

Trend Has Student Consultants at UMD's Smith School Looking in the Mirror

Aug 29, 2014, 11:00 ET from University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Aug. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Student consultants at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business often find their target audience staring at them in the mirror when they do market research for nonprofit organizations., a pro bono consulting program launched at the school's Center for Social Value Creation in 2006, reports an increased interest among nonprofit organizations in the Millennial Generation as the population segment grows up and goes to college. "Nonprofit organizations want to unleash the potential of this generation, and they are coming straight to the source for insights at the Smith School and other partner universities," said Pammi Bhullar, program manager at the Center for Social Value Creation and "Essentially, they are asking college students to gather market intelligence on themselves."

Demographic research explains the urgency to understand the mindset of Millennials, born approximately between 1980 and 2000. The Brookings Institution estimates that Millennials will make up to 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. And the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, sponsored by the Case Foundation, reports that 87 percent of Millennial employees donated to a nonprofit organization in 2013.

"Nonprofit organizations that come to recognize that Millennials as a group are socially conscious," Bhullar said. "Increasingly, nonprofit strategies hinge on how well organizations connect with this generation."

Los Angeles-based Drop in the Bucket wants to rally U.S. college students to support clean water wells in Uganda and South Sudan. Friends of the British Council wants to further empower youth and engage young entrepreneurs. And Thread, formerly known as Incentive Mentoring Program, wants to connect university role models with at-risk high school students in Baltimore. All of these organizations and others have received free consulting services through in recent semesters.

"The student teams were amazing and attentive," said Tong Zhang, chief operating officer of Thread, which collaborated with Smith undergraduate students in spring 2012 and a separate team of Smith Executive MBA students in spring 2014.

Besides building connections with student consultants at the Smith School, coordinates projects at 11 other universities. Partner institutions include Yale University, Yeshiva University, Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, Loyola University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, University of San Diego, University of Virginia, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Drexel University.

Nonprofit organizations interested in pro bono consulting services should contact Bhullar at (301) 405-9506 or

Contact: Daryl James

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SOURCE University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business