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Empower millennials in family business by making a real impact

An award-winning millennial entrepreneur says family businesses must show their rising stars how their family wealth serves the greater good if they want to engage next-gens in succession planning.

An award-winning millennial entrepreneur says family businesses must show their rising stars how their family wealth serves the greater good if they want to engage next-gens in succession planning.

Selin Yigitbasi-Ducker (pictured), founder and director of early-stage social enterprise startup Goodsted, was asked by CampdenFB to comment on The Millennial Impact Report by the Case Foundation. The report, released late last month, summarised 10 years of Case research into how millennials interacted with causes and social issues.

Family leaders have long been interested in how to engage their next generations to sustain the businesses they spent their lives building and to preserve their wealth. Appealing to next-gens’ interest in wealth with purpose and social good has been a family strategy in that engagement, with some next gens testing their business acumen in their family’s non-core philanthropic efforts.

“As millennials we need to see that our family business isn't only there to create economic value, but also real social and environmental value, and we need to be able to clearly measure this impact in order to know that we are really creating a positive impact with our activities,” Yigitbasi-Ducker said.

“Many businesses approach ‘corporate social responsibility’ in a very old-school way, only sharing activities and outputs however, outcomes and long term impact should also be clearly measured.”

Personal perspective

Yigitbasi-Ducker is the fourth-generation family member of Turkish conglomerate Yasar Holdings. She won the Top Next Generation Entrepreneur Award at the CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards 2019 for successfully establishing her own divergent business. Goodsted is a digital platform for social and environmental entrepreneurs to find likeminded support for positive change.

While the takeaways the Case Foundation offered were all useful to make family business appealing to millennial family members, Yigitbasi-Ducker noted the contrast in priorities between the 150,000 apparently North American millennials surveyed by Case, who cared about social issues like poverty (33%), race and culture (32%) and student loans (30%), and their counterparts around the world.

“I believe the findings would show slight difference if it was done in different countries,” Yigitbasi-Ducker said.

“For example, on topics millennials care about, in the research climate change doesn’t get mentioned, but this topic would definitely come up on top in UK/Europe.”

Full disclosure

Yigitbasi-Ducker said it seemed obvious to her as a millennial to expect transparency from non-profits, a view independently expressed by next-gen chairwoman Jaimie Mayer, who called for greater accountability from her own family foundation and the entire philanthropic sector. Yigitbasi-Ducker said if she did not see the specific use of donations by a non-profit then she would “definitely” not donate. This expectation of transparency, accountability and hands-on involvement from millennials could be met by family leaders who wanted to engage with their next-gens.

“Perhaps older generations were trusting the name of the institution and if they were a famous and reputable institution they wouldn’t dig deep into how they actually spend their donations,” she said.

“As millennials we question more and we want to see the institutions ‘walk the talk’.”


Yigitbasi-Ducker interacted with many millennials while developing Goodsted throughout 2018. She saw that when deciding on what to volunteer their time and skills for, they did not look at the name of the institution—as long as the cause and the action inspired them, they took part. Peer influence was also very significant. If their friends or colleagues took part, they would do so as well.

The entrepreneur said the Case research showed businesses need to give the millennials a chance to choose their own volunteering opportunities and other ways to contribute to causes. It was also important to enable opportunities where they could act as teams to contribute to causes.

“Families can empower millennial members of the family to create purpose driven and impactful projects relating to business operations,” she said.

“The principals should keep an open mind to the suggestions and ideas which the millennials will come up with, and create an environment where they can use learn startup and design thinking techniques to test, fail, learn and iterate to come up with sustainable ways to support causes. If these types of projects are run by millennials, they will have an influence to attract their peers and make the family business an appealing alternative to other career routes.”

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