Leveraging Generation Z: 3 engaging fundraising trends

Jan 27, 2020
9 minute read
Fundraising • Marketing
If you're a nonprofit professional, you're likely already familiar with millenials and how to target your fundraising marketing to attract them. However, Generation Z has now established itself as the next wave of donors.

Born around 1996 and later, Gen Z youth are known to be socially conscious. According to this infographic on generational giving, Gen Z is one of the most philanthropic generations to date. Gen Z-ers have grown up in a more diverse world than ever with access to a seemingly endless amount of social networking channels. Subsequently, they tend to be attracted to charitable acts that also might beef up their public social persona and resume.

Gen Z-ers have less disposable income and are likely more loyal to a cause than a specific organization. That's why your nonprofit should take some time to research various engaging fundraising trends and ideas which attract this up-and-coming generation.

Coming up with effective youth fundraising strategies can be tough, especially when targeting a specific group. Here are some tips to help you engage with Gen Z:

  1. Keep your marketing content concise

  2. Leverage social media

  3. Offer unique experiences

The most crucial part of fundraising to Generation Z is communicating that their involvement makes a genuine impact. Even if they don't have the largest resource of disposable income, leveraging their support will get your nonprofit ready for the future. Let's begin!

Keep your marketing content concise

Gen Z donors are the most technologically savvy individuals you'll be engaging with. Though this may seem like a positive perk in regards to your online marketing campaign, it can also create some challenges.

For one thing, younger donors use their mobile phones constantly. Gen Z-ers are continually getting a flood of information from multiple apps throughout their devices and they've learned how to filter them out as well. This is why to create lasting relationships with your donors, you need to attract them to your content while making sure your content stays straight to the point.

Though it's important and normal to send communications soliciting donations, you have to consider sending content and updates that aren't fundraising asks also. While content is straight-forward, it should also be varied from one message to the next. What is the type of content you should be sending?

  • Relevant updates to your nonprofit. This can include milestones you've reached or highlighting a personal story of how some you've deeply impacted. This reminds donors of the significant difference their contributions make for your programming.

  • Upcoming fundraising events, campaigns, or volunteer activities. Gen Z-ers want to be actively engaged with the organizations they support. They love having physical proof of their philanthropy, and helping out at a charity event is a great thing to put on the resume and to post about it on social media.

  • Images and videos. Take advantage of online communication with the use of multimedia. A great way to tell your nonprofit story is through photos and videos, and it is not an overwhelmingly big block of text.

Gen Z-ers don't always have relationships with the specific organizations they support, as they're likely to care more about the cause than the nonprofit itself. So, make sure always to use their name in communications to form a personal connection with them and continue to remind them of the good work your nonprofit is doing.

Leverage social media

The vast majority of social media users are younger, so don't be afraid to announce events and important updates on various social media platforms. Encourage past Gen Z donors to share your fundraiser with their own circle of friends. This then creates a ripple effect, as those friends will share with their own social network, spreading the word of your cause quickly and efficiently.

The wide reach of social media has created an excellent base for certain fundraising events. If your nonprofit has a large Gen Z donor base, it can prove to be extremely profitable to invest in crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising platforms.


Social media is a great starting point for a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is a fundraising event that utilizes the efforts of the personal network of family, friends, and colleagues. To better explain how easy a crowdfunding event is to plan, let's break it down:

  1. Create an online campaign webpage. Your nonprofit should find a reliable crowdfunding platform in which to host your online crowdfunding donation page. Use this page to explain your mission and your current fundraiser. This is an opportunity to make your nonprofit story both approachable and emotionally compelling.

  2. Set a fundraising goal and campaign deadline. Once your campaign has a revenue goal and time limit, this will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to keep donating. As the deadline comes up, your supporters will share the crowdfunding page to help you reach your goal.

  3. Use social media channels. Encourage your supporters to share your crowdfunding page on their social media pages. This way, their own personal network can check out the fundraiser and get a sense of your nonprofit's mission. Supporters and donors can even put the link in their account bios so that any of their "friends" or "followers" can access easily.

If your nonprofit doesn't have a go-to crowdfunding platform to use, check out DonorSearch's guide to pick the best one for your organization's unique needs.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Similar to a crowdfunding campaign, peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising also utilizes your supporters' social network channels. However, P2P requires a little more planning but can also have an even wider reach. Here's how it works:

  1. Recruit a group of volunteers. Reach out to past donors or supporters to find those who are willing to fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. Youth and other Gen Z-ers will love to participate because it showcases their philanthropy while also getting to engage with other like-minded young fundraisers.

  2. Set up individual P2P pages. Each fundraiser will have their own dedicated online peer-to-peer donation page. On this page, volunteers can describe your nonprofit and your current fundraiser, as well as their personal connection with your cause. That way, when friends and family check out the P2P page, they see exactly why your nonprofit is vital to their sibling/friend/etc.

  3. Set a fundraising goal and deadline. Similar to crowdfunding, setting up a goal and time-limit is a considerable incentive for volunteers to continue sharing their page and for their personal networks to donate!

If you want to learn more about how your nonprofit can take advantage of peer-to-peer fundraising, Fundly has a helpful guide.

Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns are selling points to Generation Z donors and supporters. These unique fundraisers actively engage youth while letting them express their charitable side on networks they are already proficient in.

Additionally, it's likely that youth and other Gen Z-ers have some of the most established social networks of all users. Don't miss out on this great opportunity and empower Gen Z donors!

Offer unique experiences

A great way to leverage your Generation Z supporters and donors is to offer unique experiences. What does this mean? Because this generation is more socially conscious, they appreciate experiences that allow them to express their philanthropy in engaging and convenient ways.

Your nonprofit should offer unique experiences that not only encourage Gen Z support but also gives something back to them. Whether it's something they can post on their social media to publicly showcase their charitable spirit or an event that they can add to their resume, youth and other Gen Z-ers are attracted to the world of fundraising.

What are some experiences your nonprofit can offer? Consider these ideas to attract Gen Z:

  1. Volunteer events. Create engaging volunteer opportunities for youth and other Gen Z-ers. For example, depending on your nonprofit's cause, you can encourage Gen Z to come out and help with a project. Additionally, offer some sort of volunteer credit so they can put it on their resumes or school applications!

  2. Crowdfunding/P2P supplemental events. Events can be a great way to help find new donors, especially events that go along with a crowdfunding or P2P campaign. For example, it's common for nonprofits to host a marathon or race which their P2P campaign is leading up to. Each fundraising volunteer won't have trouble soliciting donations from friends and family because they're going to want to support the volunteer for the marathon.

  3. Text-to-give. There is now technology that lets individuals donate to a nonprofit with a simple text of a keyword. Nonprofits and other charitable organizations will receive a phone number that donors can text whenever they want to make a gift. If they've given before, their financial information can also be saved, making donating a quick and easy action. Youth and other Gen Z donors will love the convenience of using their mobile phones, wherever they are and whenever they want.

  4. Branded merchandise. Youth continue to buy merchandise. Whether you're selling merchandise for your nonprofit or for a more specific fundraising event, young supporters will love the chance to support your organization as well as show off their philanthropy. For example, if your nonprofit also runs a summer camp, selling custom camp t-shirts is a great way to raise revenue while also promoting your cause. For more on branded merchandise, CircuiTree's article can help explain more of the benefits.

Youth and other Generation Z individuals are already interested in the fundraising world. All your nonprofit has to do is facilitate those interests into active actions with the above unique experiences.

Gen Z may be the next generation of donors, but they also want to give now. Provide them with ample opportunities and take advantage of these fundraising trends. Good luck!

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