NPO support by Gen Z

Never before has a generation so diligently recorded themselves accomplishing so little.

I found this quote on social media (where else?) but cannot establish who first said it. (Or rather, neither Google nor ChatGPT can tell me.) Facetious as this line may sound, particularly to Gen Zers or Zoomers (born between 1997 and 2012), the reality is that the world has changed. Younger people (the donors of tomorrow) are on social media for a substantial amount of time. And, as all fundraisers know, to succeed, we must be where potential donors are.

However, before we can successfully bring Zoomers on board as donors (and hope to retain them), we need to understand them. Fundraisers will not secure and sustain support from this group if going about things in the same way that individual fundraising has been undertaken for the last half-century.

Blackbaud’s new report, Gen Z at the Table: A Special Edition of The Next Generation of Giving, is an excellent and topical read. Cleverly, two parallel studies were undertaken; one an online survey of 1008 Gen Z adults (born between 1997 and 2005) and the other among 280 fundraising professionals to learn about their successes (and challenges) in fundraising from this cohort. Most respondents were USA based.

Report highlights include:

  • Gen Zers have a global perspective and deeply held beliefs around social justice and the environment.
  • Over 80% said that they support non-profits in some way (donations and/or volunteer time) – 50% in donations.
  • Trust in an organisation is imperative to this group, as is the impact of their support.
  • They are split about being interested in statistical reporting versus hearing personal stories about how their donations made a difference.
  • Giving must be very simple, quick and easy – no complex forms to complete! They like options such as donations when making purchases – 40% donate in this way.
  • They love being part of workplace volunteering and payroll giving schemes.
  • Very few give in response to traditional (old) fundraising methods: monthly debit orders (8%) or responding to email requests (8%).
  • They follow NPOs that they trust and care about and share these organisations’ posts
  • They sign and submit petitions (if quick, easy).
  • Many Zoomers are spontaneous – hence their substantial support when making purchases.
  • Yet, 40% reported that they conduct research (online, of course) before supporting an organisation.
  • Nearly 70% said that impact reporting is likely to motivate increased giving, and 57% said the same about a letter of thanks.

When asked how they felt that they could make the greatest difference, most Gen Zers said that they felt that volunteering and promoting causes online would have the greatest impact – not by making donations. One survey participant said, I don’t have a ton of money, but if the message spreads, more people will be able to donate time/money to the cause. And when asked how making their most recent donation made them feel, 57% said, Hope that things would get better.

Of interest was that the largest number of fundraising professionals surveyed (when asked why they felt that they were not raising much money from this generation), 41%, felt that they were not engaging effectively with influencers. One said: I think we’re not putting resources where Gen Z is looking. I feel like it’s all focused on Facebook and Instagram, but it’s not the best. Why aren’t more organizations putting their marketing people on TikTok? Because that’s been really effective, even seeing people telling their story, spreading awareness.

A third of young responders said that they would be interested in serving on junior boards or advisory committees. Most NPOs don’t offer such options, and the professionals surveyed were ambivalent about the effectiveness of such bodies. I feel that NPOs have a huge opportunity to engage with their Gen Z supporters via such structures. After all, one of the greatest needs among younger people is building up experience. It’s often their biggest obstacle when applying for jobs. What better than including them in a formal structure within an NPO and build life-long supporter relationships in a rapidly changing world?

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