Does Your Nonprofit Meet The Expectations of Gen Z Donors?
At Givzey, we spend a good amount of time examining the behaviors of Gen Z donors. Not only are they the most recent adult generation, they represent about 20% of the U.S. population. Additionally, along with Millennials, Gen Z will inherit an unprecedented transfer of wealth in their lifetimes, worth a reported $68 trillion.
Instilling a culture of philanthropy in Gen Z now will develop a rolling wave of philanthropic giving for generations to come.
Decades ago, when wealth transferred from one generation to the next, nonprofits had to resegment their donor bases, and perhaps hire a consultant for a period of time to check the box and know they could get in front of their new up-and-coming donors. Today, not only is that not enough, but this up-and-coming generation of donors may find that approach inauthentic. Gen Z donors want more than updated messaging, they want to see concrete social responsibility.
As a nonprofit leader, you may be saying to yourself, "Social responsibility is core to what we do as an organization." However, from commerce to social media, where they study to where they work, appealing to Gen Z requires a different technique.
Born 1997-2010, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up not knowing a world without the internet or social media. Also one of the most diverse and socially conscious generations, Gen Z has a distinct focus on values. They've seen economic and political changes happen so often that they tend to be more pragmatic, independent, and less trustful of institutions and authority, which leads them to seek causes, brands, products, and services that match their values.
How can you help your mission appeal to Gen Z? These insights can help you meet the expectations of your Gen Z donors.
It Starts with Your Cause
Every nonprofit leader reading this post represents an amazing cause; eradicating homelessness, ending hunger, curing disease, opening career pathways, stopping in-school bullying – this virtuous list is endless. But Gen Z looks for personalization. Try explaining what your organization stands for, not just why you exist. Perhaps you stand for warm shelter for every member of your community, for providing affordable nutritious meals to families, for fast-tracking FDA approval of a critical medicine, or for teaching empathy and conflict resolution in schools.
Allow your Gen Z donors to picture themselves as a part of the solution by showing them what and who your mission stands for.
Gen Z cares that your marketing aligns with your culture. For example, if your organization speaks about DEI initiatives, Gen Z donors will likely have a look at your board and leadership team to see if you practice what you preach. Or, if there was recently a leadership change or strategic shift, they'll expect that you not only disclose the news but also explain the reason behind the change and how it will impact the community moving forward.
Practice what you preach. Gen Z is incredibly good at sniffing out organizations that talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.
Every nonprofit leader knows that it's important to show donors the impact they are making, down to the very dollar if possible. But how many of us consistently show impact to donors before they make their gift? With so many social media and other channels to reach Gen Z donors, they should be well aware of how their gift can make an impact.
Additionally, it's extremely compelling to explain to Gen Z donors where impact has fallen short, why that's so, and how they can help to rectify it. Never underestimate the power of showing progress on a yet-to-be-realized goal.
Do your Gen Z donors know how to connect with each other? This might be inherent at educational institutions, where donors and supporters are likely to be alumni. But it's also possible at cause-based nonprofits, as well.
Perhaps you have a legion of volunteers, past volunteers, or event participants. Showing Gen Z your community and inviting them to be a part of it can reinforce the commitment to your cause. Also, as you'll see in the Caenhill video below – you don't necessarily need to create an entirely new community for Gen Z. Give them a space in the one you have.
Say What You Believe
Gen Z does not appreciate ambiguity. In fact, 65% believe the brands they follow should take a stand politically and socially. While this type of thinking runs counter to the PR textbook of generations past, Gen Z rewards organizations that exhibit honesty and transparency with their words, then back these up with their actions.
As a nonprofit leader, adapting how you communicate now is critical. Gen Z is in its infancy of making philanthropy a regular practice (or not). The nonprofits that speak to them early will not only acquire donors who prioritize giving to their cause, but they'll also win donors who are set to inherit unprecedented wealth, and future major donors.