Ready or not, Gen Z is poised to reshape the future of philanthropy. That means it’s time for your organization to get to know this key demographic that will one day make up your mid-level, annual fund, and major gift donors.
In this episode of the Go Beyond Fundraising podcast, we’re diving into “The Nonprofit’s Guide to Engaging Gen Z,” a new report from Classy, Pursuant, and GivingDNA that breaks down everything nonprofits need to know about reaching and engaging this age group. We’re joined by Michelle Boggs, Executive Nonprofit Industry Advisor at Classy, and Alyssa Boger, Senior Vice President of Client Strategy at Pursuant.
This is an extremely timely and important report full of actions your organization can take today to cultivate this donor base in a more effective way. So, let’s jump into the highlights!
Why Is Gen Z Such a Big Deal for Fundraisers?
As we look to the future, it's becoming increasingly clear that the landscape of philanthropy is undergoing a significant shift. With baby boomers set to pass on their wealth younger generations, nonprofits must adapt their strategies to better engage these groups.
At the same time, giving trends over the past decade have shown a decline in the number of donors, even as overall giving has increased. This suggests that organizations need to focus more on acquiring and retaining younger donors, who will play a critical role in the future of philanthropy.
Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities to innovate and grow in the digital age. By leveraging technology and data to better understand and connect with younger donors, nonprofits can build strong, lasting relationships that will help secure their future success.
Gen Z donors are a unique and dynamic force in philanthropy. With unprecedented access to social media and technology, they are more engaged with activism than any other donor base. They are acutely aware of the challenges and crises facing our world, and they are driven to take action and make a difference.
But Gen Z donors aren't content to simply write a check and move on. They want to feel connected to the causes and charities they support, and they want to see their impact in real-time. For them, it's not just about donating money, but about aligning themselves with organizations whose values and missions resonate with their own.
To engage with Gen Z donors effectively, nonprofits need to understand their unique motivations and preferences. By embracing innovative technology and digital platforms, and by prioritizing transparency, authenticity, and impact, organizations can build meaningful relationships with this critical demographic and harness their energy and enthusiasm for social change.
This passion will lead Gen Z donors to become your biggest advocates. They are fiercely loyal to the organizations they support and won’t hesitate to share their missions with friends and family.
The Impact of For-Profit Businesses
Several years ago, the commercial space noticed that weaving their core values into marketing and advertising increased customer retention. They turned a transactional relationship into a relational one. Charities are finally catching on, but this values-led approach means retailers and brands are crossing over into the nonprofit space with similar messaging and competing for dollars.
What are nonprofits to do? First, tap into localization. Capture the boots-on-the-ground work you’re doing in your local community. Show you’re serving your neighborhood daily to create a personal connection with donors near you.
Also, be authentic. Gen Z wants to see genuine communication and authenticity. Don’t try to copy what large brands are doing; instead, show actual examples of your work — even if it’s not pretty. Don’t worry about perfectly polished videos or photos; Gen Z values humor (where appropriate) and reality.
What Motivates Gen Z to Give?
In general, the top values Gen Z cares about are authenticity, transparency, and political leanings. We’ve covered authenticity, so let’s talk about transparency. Gen Z donors want to know precisely where their money is going. In fact, almost 40% will research your website and social media channels to better understand your impact and see if they align with your cause.
“Political leanings” covers a lot. First, does your organization care about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? Gen Z is and will continue to be our most diverse group of donors, so make sure you’re practicing what you preach around DEI initiatives.
Gen Z tends to show up for racial justice, climate change, gun legislation, and local political campaigns. These mirror current events, showing there’s a sense of urgency that drives their giving as well. Donors are activated by these timely events and feel like they can be part of the solution. By giving, they’re getting involved.
Of course, this requires you to speak up in such times, which can be daunting and even scary. After all, you don’t want to polarize your full donor base. Have a plan in place that outlines how you might respond to various situations so you can join the conversation. But make sure you connect with people in ways that show you’re listening and that you want to be an organization that solves problems.
What Other Hot Topics Do We Cover?
This episode is chock full of advice you can’t afford to miss, such as:
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