January 09, 2019

The Issues That Matter Most Now

Carol Cone

Carol Cone ON PURPOSE

Which social issues matters most to Americans? According to Harris and others, it’s privacy and online security, followed by healthcare and jobs. A Catalist survey says education and health. Ask younger people, and a different story emerges.

Axios reports that 68% of young people (ages 14 to 29) rank school shootings as the number one issue facing the U.S.

  • 77% said they or someone close to them had suffered from mental health issues, which researchers connected to gun violence.
  • School shootings was the top concern for female, white, black, Hispanic, rural and suburban youth. It also ranked in the top three for male, Republican and rural youth.
  • Nearly 50% of African Americans said they know someone who has been shot.
  • “The issue connects young Americans unlike anything except 9/11 in the last 20 years,” said John Della Volpedirector of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics and founder and CEO of SocialSphere, which conducted the in-depth study. 
  • Those over 18 took this concern to the ballot box: an estimated 31% of those polled voted in the U.S. midterms, nearly double the 2014 midterm turnout for this age group.

Companies and others looking to connect with younger Millennials and Gen Z would do well to keep this in mind. Yet, sensitive issues require thoughtful strategies. Even Toms, which contributed $5M as part of a mini-campaign with laudable elements (and, yes, merch), doesn’t seem to have launched a truly comprehensive program addressing the issue. 

Could that change in 2019, with the National Rifle Association (NRA), tens of millions in the red, membership falling and the organization even cutting free coffee in the office? I’d love to hear what you think.

And, if you don’t know what I mean by a truly comprehensive program around the issue, you and your team might benefit from a level-set session on best practices and the state of purpose today. Reach out if you’d like to get on our schedule.

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