These days, more and more charities are looking to reach prospective Millennial and Gen Z supporters. Though lacking the wealth and experience of Baby Boomers, Gen X, and the Silent Generation, these cohorts have a ton to offer – both today and over the long term. Continue reading to learn the key attributes of each generation and how to add them to your donor or volunteer base!
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials constitute the largest living generation in the United States (with 72 million people)! But they aren’t just big – they are also incredibly generous. In fact, while painted as “lazy, entitled, self-obsessed and uninvolved," Millennials are the most active demographic donating to charity (with 84% donating annually). They give “more than twice as much of their money and time to charitable causes as either Baby Boomers or Gen X” and are the top supporters of human rights and international development, victims of crime/abuse, and child development. Also, because they like to stay “ultra-connected to peers”, Millennials engage heavily in peer-to-peer fundraising, helping to “activate a vast majority of young fundraisers."
But how can nonprofits reach Millennials? First, they can cultivate a strong donor relationship. Millennials aren’t swayed by big-name, established charities—they want a charity that they can trust to make a real impact on key issues. Second, nonprofits can leverage technology. Millennials were the first generation to really grow up with the Internet (even if it was dial-up), social media (remember MySpace?), and ubiquitous cell phones. Thus, nonprofits should have a strong, mobile-friendly online presence, including a captivating website and social media pages. Third, they should make donating quick and easy. Many Millennials are working full-time, raising families, and caring for aging parents, so every minute is precious!
Following Millennials, Gen Z consists of those born between 1997 and 2012. Thus, they are even more technologically connected—an astounding 98% have smartphones! They have also come of age in an era of accelerating climate change, economic crashes, pandemics, and humanitarian crises. Together, these factors have made Gen Z “hyper-aware” of global problems and determined to make a difference. For example, within the group (numbering 67 million in the United States), 77% are extremely interested in volunteering opportunities and careers at nonprofits. Another 10% want to start nonprofits themselves!
Nonprofits can connect with this philanthropic generation in a few ways. Beyond those listed above, nonprofits can invest in online marketing, particularly on social media platforms. After all, “as digital natives," Gen Z has developed a high tolerance for digital ads and is “heavily active on social media." Such ads should be succinct, pointed, and digestible, recognizing that Gen Z’s attention span is a mere 8 seconds (compared to 12 for Millennials)! Additionally, nonprofits can capitalize on Gen Z’s obsession with cell phones. They can offer “text-to-give services," allowing Gen Z to donate in seconds via text message (SMS). Last but not least, nonprofits can form various strategic partnerships. For example, they can tap social media influencers to serve as spokespeople, popular video game streamers to host a tournament fundraiser, and corporate partners to attract young Gen Z professionals.
So, in the words of the younger generations, here’s the “TLDR” (the summary): Millennials and Gen Z can be huge assets for nonprofit organizations. In general, they are socially minded, idealistic, and generous, translating into significant donations in time and money. (Plus, since they are young, their donations may continue or grow over the course of their lifetimes!) To attract these supporters, nonprofits should focus on demonstrating impact, leveraging modern technology, and streamlining donation methods. Of course, organizations may need to adapt these strategies over time (to reflect changes in culture, technology, and the age of Millennials and Gen Z). To this end, we recommend that nonprofits appoint a young employee or volunteer to alert them to such changes…and to follow our blog!
For additional insights, be sure to read our other blogs Four Tips to Elevate Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Tactics and Reap the Benefits of Instagram: Top Tips for Nonprofits.