It’s not hard to find insights and advice about the importance of appealing to potential donors who are Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers. But you should also start thinking about the next crop of donors — Generation Z, those born after 1996.
Getting to know Gen Z
Gen Zers typically are either in school or just launching their careers, so you can understand why they haven’t yet attracted a lot of interest from many nonprofits. After all, according to a study conducted by one market research firm, their contributions represent only about 2% of total giving. And their average donation tops out at $341 per year. But — and it’s a big “but” — about 44% of Gen Zers have given to charity. These youngsters aren’t waiting until they’re older and wealthier to try to make a difference.
Sometimes dubbed “Philanthrokids” or “Philanthroteens,” Generation Z may be more driven to pursue social impact than earlier generations at their age. Many are hyperaware of what’s going on in both the world and their local communities.
As digital natives who have grown up surrounded by technology, they have the skills to be adept at peer-to-peer fundraising. Whether convincing their friends and families to sponsor them in fun runs and similar events, or using social media to generate direct donations to their favored causes, Gen Zers often make valuable resources for nonprofits.
Many are also working as advocates for more politically oriented causes they see affecting their own lives, such as gun control, climate change and inequality. Consider, for example, the teenagers and young adults who mobilized ongoing gun control campaigns in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Or the almost two dozen youths currently suing the federal government for failing to fight climate change.
To reach Gen Z, you’ll need to use channels such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter — obviously different from those used for older generations. The good news? Gen Zers are receptive to digital ads. The bad? They’re well aware of the mounds of their personal data out there. Many of them expect outreach to be narrowly tailored to their interests.
Gen Zers also tend to want to be more involved than many of their predecessors. They may not be satisfied with just writing a check or setting up recurring payments (likely to be microdonations initially). They often desire a hands-on role.
Not too soon
You can find more lucrative demographic segments than Gen Z to target in the short term. But if you take advantage of this generation’s charitable inclinations and get them involved now, you might end up with decades-long relationships.