Nonprofit organizers have a lot to worry about between engaging and retaining donors, spreading awareness, and enacting change. Factor in tight finances and a world in crisis and 2022 doesn’t seem like a wise time to change things up and appeal to Gen Z.
Greg Perlstein, the senior innovation manager at Salesforce.org, makes a compelling argument in this article in The Atlantic for why you should start nurturing a relationship now.
“AS RESOURCES ARE STRETCHED THIN during the coronavirus pandemic, many organizations are doubling down on the older audiences they’ve already captured. But what if they’re missing a major opportunity?”
“While a majority of young people say they wish they could do more to help during this pandemic, according to a report from DoSomething.org, 42 percent of them say they don’t know how to get started. If young people want to get involved but don’t know how, then as a sector we’re missing a major opportunity. Building effective engagement journeys has never been more important.”
We’ll share some tips and resources below to help your nonprofit nurture a relationship with Gen Z, but first, it’s best to get an idea of where they are coming from.
Who is Gen Z?
Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z are different from Millennials in that they are the first to grow up with the internet literally at their fingertips, thanks to the iPhone. It launched in 2007, when the oldest of Gen Z was 10 years old. With the iPhone came sweeping changes in how we access the internet, consume information, and interact with one another. Gen Z is the first generation to which tapping, scrolling, and swiping are second nature.
As this Pew Research article states, “Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.” Gen Z also came of age in a time of crisis (including COVID), and it’s made them passionate about social change, the environment, and making a difference. Like Millennials, they “want to work for companies with a purpose beyond profit—companies that share their values.” source
- The most diverse, educated generation yet
- Motivated and passionate about bettering the world
- Generous with their time and money for causes they care about
- Aligned with Millennials on most major issues facing the U.S.
- Careful with their money and with whom they spend it
- Attached to their devices, but truly value interacting in person
TLDR: Gen Z is a savvy group of young people eager to make meaningful connections and create change.
Tips for How Nonprofits Can Inspire Gen Z
After getting to know Gen Z, it’s a little easier to start thinking about how to connect with them. In fact, you might be partway there.
If your nonprofit:
- Offers a variety of donation and participation options
- Embraces peer-to-peer fundraising
- Communicates authentically
- Works to create an approachable, authentic social media presence
You’re on the right track!
Below, we’ll share concrete tips and resources to help you build a strategy that welcomes Gen Z in joining your nonprofit’s mission.
Yes to Social Media, but YAAAS to YouTube
Facebook may be the platform most visited by all other age groups, but not Gen Z—this is from a survey conducted by creative agency Visual Objects. Additionally, Pew Research found that, of all the social media platforms, YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%), and Snapchat (69%) are the most popular platforms among Gen Z. Meanwhile, only 51% use Facebook and 32% use Twitter.
We get it—Gen Z responds to video. But what kind?
Wondering what Snapchat is?
Partner With For-Profit
You’ve probably noticed that many brands have begun putting their values and how they contribute to the world front and center (including us!). That’s because, now more than ever, it matters. This study found that “85% of Gen Zers believe brands should be about something more than profit.” That attitude drives their buying decisions. Gen Z is all about “voting with their dollars,” hence the trend of for-profits partnering with causes aligned with their values. All of this is to say that if your nonprofit isn’t approaching local or nationwide businesses about teaming up, it should.
This article does a great job illustrating the sorts of partnerships and resulting social media content that Gen Z appreciates.
If you’ve seen our article on Nonprofit Tech for Good, you know we’re huge fans of peer-to-peer (P2P). It’s an easy, resource-light way our nonprofit customers can increase awareness and the amount of money they raise. Peer-to-peer fundraising is also a match for Gen Z. This article from Charity Digital found:
“Gen Z are ready and waiting to ’go viral’ by peer-to-peer fundraising for your charity online. A 2019 study from CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) showed a huge amount of untapped enthusiasm from young donors to do something daring or creative for charity. Over three-quarters (77%) of 16-24 year olds would bungee jump, shave their head, or do something else daring to raise money for a good cause, well above the national average of 49%.”
Go Beyond the Ask
As any nonprofit organizer knows, engagement and spreading awareness are not just about raising money. You want active people in your community and believe in your cause to support it by volunteering and sharing it on social media.Asking Gen Z for donations at the outset isn’t the best approach—they’re cautious with their money and more likely to give their time and energy first. So, instead of the ask, try what Perlstein suggests in his The Atlantic article:
“Set at least one engagement goal that isn’t donation-focused, such as gathering petition signatures via text or recruiting virtual volunteers. Connecting with young people is a long-term investment, but one that is critical to the sustainability of any organization.”
Creating a whole new approach to attract new supporters for your nonprofit might seem like a big ask (see what we did there?), but it’s worth it. No matter how strong your existing donor base is, nurturing Gen Z is about building a more substantial base for your organization’s future and its continued positive impact on the world.