Generational differences are present in all sectors of society, as older and younger generations exhibit traits and habits that are unique to them. One of the more low-key differences in generations is seen in how each one donates and volunteers with nonprofits or social causes. In recent years, Millennials and Gen Z have been a unique study as nonprofits try to peg the giving habits of young donors.

How do Millennials and Gen Zers donate, and how does it impact nonprofit fundraising strategies? As Forward Wayne County highlights giving and philanthropy in November, we will examine the giving habits of the younger generations and some strategies nonprofits can use to engage with this generational anomaly.

Who are Millennials and Gen Zers?

What are the years and age ranges that define Millennials and younger Gen Z members? The Millennial group typically encompasses people born from 1981 to 1996. On the other hand, Gen Z usually includes a group born between 1996 and 2010. A third budding group, deemed Generation Alpha, will capture those born from 2010 to 2024.

The young generations are marked by the advent and development of the digital age, along with several global events. These history-breaking events have greatly influenced the attitudes and habits of the younger generations. This has also led to several generational differences as younger people have started to have values different from those of the older group.

Giving Habits of the Younger Generations

There is a clear generation difference in giving and donating between younger and older groups. Several studies have found that Baby Boomers provide the most to charity, with an average of $1,212 donated annually. Gen X followed behind with a study noting they give $732 annually on average and also lead the generations in volunteer hours.

Studies have indicated that younger generations are giving less than their older counterparts. Millennials were found to have donated an average of $481 annually across three charities. Gen Z is only starting to make a charitable impact to have any relevant data available. 

A defining feature of younger groups is the influence of social media and a strong passion for causes versus charities. Social media, along with digital giving platforms, have been the go-to medium for youth giving. Additionally, on the more Gen Z side, a strong preference for donations is focused on smaller grassroots organizations and social causes.

Millennials and members of Gen Z are known for being tech-savvy and passionate about social issues. They reflect their giving attitudes through a reliance on online giving and a strong influence from social media.

Engagement Strategies

Nonprofits should consider utilizing different engagement strategies when targeting a younger audience. An excellent first step is to understand the motivations of young people and create a fundraising message and brand based on them. For example, to target members of Gen Z, a nonprofit may try to connect its mission to an overarching social issue or cause. This would draw upon the passions Gen Zers have for grassroots efforts and social justice.

Another effective strategy is targeting the spaces in which Millennials and Gen Z exist. Social media and other online platforms strongly influence younger generations. This means nonprofits should emphasize social media and digital fundraising efforts. Some examples include digital ads, online donation pages, utilizing services like GoFundMe, or implementing a robust social media strategy. The social media component is going to be essential in attracting Gen Z, given that generations rely on various platforms for access to information.

A clear fundraising message will also be essential in getting young donors’ attention. Nonprofits should create a message that states the organizational mission and impact. This is also another great place to connect with an overarching social cause. Younger generations want to support organizations that directly impact issues they are passionate about.

Volunteering is a great way to engage with a younger audience. Gen Z’s drive for entrepreneurship is well-known. Offering volunteer opportunities could give them a passion for a nonprofit. This method is also an easy way to establish lasting relationships that go beyond digital platforms.

The key to engaging with young donors is to try every type of strategy and not stray away from ones that require social media. There is also a need for creativity in these efforts.

Importance of Young Donors

The importance of young donors cannot be understated. They will be future fundraising sources, and nonprofits should already be involved in efforts to engage with younger generations. Young donors present a new challenge as they are a new audience with different motivations from previous generations.

Nonprofit organizations should not only be engaging with younger audiences but also encouraging them. They need to find the philanthropic spirit within millennials and Gen Zers.

Young donors are the future of nonprofit philanthropy, and another generation (Generation Alpha) is coming.

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