Making Your Nonprofit Appealing to Millennials and Gen Z

Many charitable organizations have been hard-hit in the wake of the pandemic and are going back to their reliable Baby Boomer donors to give more. But these organizations have a major opportunity to capture a new audience of younger Americans if they appeal to them in the right way.


Why You Should Be Targeting Gen Z and Millennials

Younger American adults have shown that they are more than willing to give to charitable causes that they care about. A survey in 2020 showed that Millennials had the highest rates of pandemic-related giving, followed by Gen Z.

Younger generations bring a passion to social challenges and a forward-thinking mentality and energy to the pursuit of making the world a better place. And as your current Baby Boomer and Gen X stalwarts continue to age, your organization’s viability is dependent upon recruiting the next generation. If you do not target and engage this younger cohort, your organization is missing out on potential volunteers and leaving significant funds on the table.


What Makes Millennials and Gen Z Different?

Gen Zers (or Generation Alpha) are generally defined as those who were born approximately between 1997 to 2019. Millennials (also called Gen Yers) are those born approximately between 1981 to 1996.

Young American adults are very interested in being involved with causes that motivate them, however, they may not discover or engage with your nonprofit in the same way as older generations. If you have been recruiting new members and managing your organization the same way that you have always done for years, it may be time to rethink some strategies.

They do not want to mail you a check.

They may not even have a checkbook. You’d better make sure that you have easy digital methods for taking donations or you will be missing out. Investigate some ways you can incorporate easy text giving for a special project or annual drive. Offering younger adults an easy option like “Text GIVE to 56789 to make a donation” can garner great results.

They do their research.

Younger Americans want to be informed about the causes to which they are giving. They will go online and read up on your organization and will look for more evidence of your results than previous generations. They may visit a watchdog site like Charity Watch and check you out there. Ensure that your website and online content tell a compelling story with plenty of convincing case studies showing your work and all you have accomplished.

They want their work to reflect their values.

Millennials and Gen Z workers tend to gravitate towards companies and careers that have meaning. They want to feel that what they do and the business they work for is making a positive difference in the world. They want to see their companies give back to the community. This presents an opportunity for you to create corporate giving programs and enlist your younger members and volunteers to encourage their various workplaces to become involved.

They are attentive to insensitive comments or scandal.

The younger generations are much less likely to accept remarks or policies that suggest your organization might harbor any prejudices towards anyone based on gender, sexual orientation, race, abilities, religion and more. If you haven’t had a serious discussion about this with your board and haven’t created a written document about anti-discrimination policy, it is time to do so, and make it public. If you do have an incident or scandal involving your organization or board, get on top of it right away. Trying to sweep it under the rug will likely only backfire. Issue an apology immediately, and if the incident is serious enough, a statement informing the public that the offending person or persons have stepped down.

They expect two-way communication.

Millennials and Gen Zers aren’t going to be content to make a donation once a year and receive an annual report. They want to be actively involved and have open communication channels with leadership. Embrace this. They may have great ideas and the drive to motivate others to greater levels of participation. Some communication channels you should consider might include a members-only Facebook Group or a tool like Slack to foster discussion amongst large groups of people on a variety of subjects.


The methods of communication may have changed, but in many ways Gen Z and Millennials are like young people in the generations before them, idealistic, passionate and interested in making a difference. You can tap into that energy to benefit the mission of your organization. Want to learn more about how to attract and retain new, young members, volunteers and donors? Check out How to Grow Your Young Professional Membership and contact us for more creative nonprofit assistance at J&M Business Solutions today!