Millennials give when they feel inspired, UWindsor law student tells Senate committee

A law student from the University of Windsor had a chance to speak before a Senate committee. Kayla Smith told the senators young adults are most likely to get involved when they feel a personal connection.

Kayla Smith addressed a special Senate committee about the charitable givings of her generation

Kayla Smith is a law student at the university of Windsor. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

University of Windsor law student Kayla Smith wants Canadians to know that millennials are giving.

That's the message she gave to a Senate committee on the charitable sector which is looking at how laws and policies affect how we give, or don't give, to charities.

"I believe that we are giving, sometimes in different ways — non-traditional ways," Smith explained to CBC's Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette.

She suggested to the committee that millennials — those born in the early 80s to the mid 90s— are inspired by authenticity.

"It is said that millennials do not give to charity but I am of the opinion that that is not true," she told the committee on May 28. "We are compassionate and an empathetic generation, largely driven by a belief in a cause rather than sometimes by a specific organization."

During an internship at Imagine Canada, a charitable organization that supports non-profits, Smith delved into the research about the charitable contributions of her generation. She wrote a blog post about it, that ended up scoring her the invite to address the committee, and she also has personal experience volunteering, after going on a mission trip in Moldova last summer.

"When I looked at the social issues that they were rallying around, that connected to me as a person, as an individual and I felt authentically inspired by the movement," said Smith. "That's what led me to not only want to give financially but to go overseas and give my time as well." 

Hear more from Smith on CBC's Windsor Morning:

A University of Windsor law student appeared as a witness before a Senate committee recently. It was all about millennials and how supportive they are of charities. Kayla Smith will tell us about her experience on Parliament Hill. 6:40

Start them younger

One thing that came up at the committee meeting was the mandatory 40 hours of community service required by high school students. 

Smith remembers performing the task and said it was a "good way to get my feet wet," but wondered if it was enough. 

"I do question if that is enough," she said. "If it's even enough to get young people engaged in charity."

She suggests that students, even very little ones, could be taught and encouraged to give back in some way. 

Overall, her time spent with senators was productive, she said.

"I think it was a great experience to share my perspective as a millennial ... I think that made an impact that I was able to share my personal and professional experiences."


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