International Women’s Day: Generation M are ready to be heard – are Fundraisers ready to listen?

As much as I hate to admit it, my life is laced with millennial stereotypes. I’ve got an obsession with indoor plants, am glued to my iPhone, catching up on the hundreds of notifications sitting in my WhatsApp and yes, brunch is my favourite meal of the day.

Which generation do you relate to? Perhaps you’re a Boomer, thirsty for the new lease of life on approaching retirement and you’re thinking about following in your children’s footsteps by taking on a ‘gap yah’.
Or maybe you’re Generation X, that’s now swapped your 90s raves for posh dinners or diapers (or both!). We talk about generations a lot in my office, mostly when my Gen X boss is aghast his 80s references fly over my head.

What’s exciting, is there’s a new generation in town (and no it’s not the Snapchat savvy gen Z’s). It’s Generation M – the bold, enthusiastic Muslim Millennials that are thirsty for change.
Islam is the fastest growing religion globally. It’s a young demographic, with two thirds under the age of 30.

Their faith goes hand in hand with modern life. They passionately uphold their beliefs and shop for the brands that help craft their individual image and identity. This generation of young inspired Muslims are paving the way for the generations to come. However, they are underrepresented time and time again in advertising and on the high street.

Shelina Janmohamed, author of ‘Generation M, The Young Muslims Changing the World’ told the Guardian she recalls going into a bookshop some years ago ‘They had this display of books about Muslims, and it was all misery memoirs of women in veils with cast down eyes’. Times have changed, Generation M are bold, and they want the world to know it.

In Janmohamed’s words ‘The change [Generation M] will bring about won’t depend on the benevolence of others: instead the Muslim pound, will force soft cultural change by means of hard economics.’
In the UK, Muslims number just under 5% of the population and contribute £20 billion to the economy. Amongst this vast audience sits Generation M who are ready to be represented by brands who engage with and understand them.

The cover of Janmohamed’s book illustrates this story perfectly. Drawn on the cover is a woman with a strong, determined expression wearing a colourful hijab and striking lipstick. A young male standing behind her in solidarity, also with a determined expression and his hands in his pockets.

This prompted thinking on how this affects charity giving, after all charity brands need to work just as hard to engage audiences as commercial brands do.

It’s central to the Muslim identity to feel care and compassion for others. Quoting Islamic Relief’s website ‘If a Muslim feels the pain of his or her fellow human being and wishes the same comfort and good life for others which he wishes for himself – it is a natural reaction to give in charity, to ease this suffering’ (Charity in Islam – www.islamic-relief.org.uk/resources/charity-in-islam)

It’s clear giving to charity and caring for others is fundamental part of the Muslim faith. YouGov’s audience segmentation tool shows that, in general, Muslims are 6 times more likely than other religious people in the UK to engage in charitable activities as a part of their religious beliefs. However, they were just under half as likely than a national average to have engaged with charities (through volunteering, charity shopping and/or financial donations) in the last three months. I believe this is a product problem, where the Voluntary Sector aren’t meeting this audience’s needs.

Some brands are paying attention. Marks and Spencer have launched a ‘modest line’ and Nike are selling sports hijabs with more following suit. Generation M are ready to be heard by brands across all sectors and industries, are fundraisers ready to listen?

At GOOD, we’ve been working with clients on ways to fix giving – to build sustainable income for the most worthwhile causes. It’s time to step up represent and engage with Generation M. If you want to discuss this further, get in touch.