A Smarter Way to Fundraise: Explore Classy’s Fundraising Intelligence Suite

Gen Z: The Next Generation of Donors

university graduates

Request a Demo

Learn how top nonprofits use Classy to power their fundraising.

Schedule a Demo
Published December 8, 2017 Reading Time: 3 minutes

Many nonprofits have researched giving trends among baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials and have discovered appropriate strategies to engage them. Generation Z, however, is one upcoming group that the sector is now trying to understand.

With the entrance of Generation Z into the workforce, it’s important that you learn how to engage this young audience. Below, we dive into who they are and how your nonprofit can engage them.

Who Is Generation Z?

gen z giving

Gen Z, also known as “Philanthroteens,” refers to a cohort of young people born in the late 1990s and later. As of 2017, they make up 27 percent of the world population and account for 2 billion people. Moreover, by the year 2020, the number is expected to rise to 2.6 billion individuals.

It’s clear that soon, Gen Z will join millennials as the next generation of donors.

Whereas millennials grew up mostly in an economically stable and peaceful social environment, Gen Z has grown up exposed to diverse issues, surrounded by technologies and social media. Therefore, from a very young age, they’ve been aware of all the latest news: terrorism, the uncertainty of the economic situation, climate change, and different humanitarian challenges around the world. This hyper-awareness encourages many Gen Z youth to make a difference in this world.

Here are some trends that demonstrate their charitable habits:

  • 57 percent of young people will save their money rather than spend it
  • 32 percent of Gen Z donate their own money
  • 26 percent of 16 to 19-year-olds practice volunteering on a regular basis
  • 50 percent are looking for a job in volunteering
  • 10 percent want to start their own nonprofit organization

Volunteer experience, in particular, can be top of mind for Gen Z as they build their resumes. According to the last research of internships.com, 77 percent of Generation Z are extremely interested in volunteering opportunities and in careers for the nonprofits.

Use the following tips to engage young donors and incite them to take action.

3 Ways to Engage Gen Z

1. Keep Everything Simple and Concise

Young donors use social media constantly, and more often than not, through their phones. It’s important that your organization has a mobile-friendly website to make a great first impression.

Gen Z also has a short attention span (in fact, their attention span is eight seconds as opposed to 12 for the previous Gen Y). In order to draw and, most importantly, maintain their attention, it’s imperative to keep all of your content and website information laconic, to the point, and digestible, so that Gen Z can immediately understand what your organization is about and why they should help you.

2. Tell Your Story

Tell an inspiring story about your organization and the value it brings to society. It’s important that you build meaningful relationships based on trust, so demonstrate what a great impact their contribution will make and how their donation or participation matters. Get specific about their impact.

Rather than hitting them with hard asks, focus on telling your unique story that will move them to take action. Visual content is key in telling your story. In addition to photos, infographics are also a great tool to relay data in a memorable and digestible way. They also are easier to process (bear in mind people’s short attention span).

Video is also a particularly powerful medium that can inspire audiences more than text could. Show your purpose, problems, and possible solutions—just like a typical story arc.

3. Leverage Social Media

By utilizing social media and smart nonprofit marketing strategies, you can significantly enhance your reach and impact. Use the aforementioned storytelling tactics on your social channels and include photos, videos and infographics to encourage shares and engagement. Hashtags are also an important tool that can help your posts get discovered by those outside of your following. Some popular nonprofit hashtags include #philanthropy, #fundraising, #charity, #socialimpact, #4charity, #socialgood, #volunteer, #donate, #nonprofit.

One smart example of social media marketing is Water is Life’s campaign. They implemented a hashtag #FirstWorldProblems in order to spread their video First World Problems Anthem, which highlights the irony of small everyday problems and focuses on the deep need of people who lack clean water. This hashtag caught on and people started using it as the main vehicle to spread information about this organization and incite action.

As Generation Z possesses a big passion for social change, it’s time you start thinking about how to attract their attention. Prepare and reach out now in order to draw them into your donor base early on.


Alice Berg is a freelance writer from Bath, UK, and a career advisor at GoodHired who received a degree in Social Work and Applied Social Studies. Now she helps people to find their own way in life, gives career advice and guidance, and helps young people to prepare for their careers. You can find Alice on Twitter.

kayak on a lake

The Know Your Donors Field Guide

Subscribe to the Classy Blog

Get the latest fundraising tips, trends, and ideas in your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing

You signed up for emails from Classy

Request a Demo

Learn how top nonprofits use Classy to power their fundraising.

Schedule a Demo

Turn web visitors into donors before they leave.

Get pop-up functionality, abandoned cart notifications, and more with Classy’s Donation Forms. Request your demo today:

Thanks for
requesting a demo!

Our team will be in touch soon with scheduling options.

Pin It on Pinterest