Tips to Get Gen Z Support for Your Nonprofit

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | June 2022

Diverse set of gen z people on their phones against a wall.

When planning a marketing campaign for your nonprofit, you must consider generational differences. Either you may need to reach multiple generations, or your audience may belong to one generation. To be successful, you have to understand the difference between talking to Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z. In this article, we'll focus on what it takes to get Gen Z to support your nonprofit.

Create a Gen Z Persona

You can better understand your Gen Z audience by building a buyer persona that includes their preferences and behaviors. Here are some key points to consider.

  • Generation Z is usually defined as anyone born between 1997 and 2012. There will be some differences between younger Gen Z and those closer to the millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996.
  • They are digital natives. Generation Z grew up using smartphones and social media. The digital world is their natural environment. Learn which platforms they spend the most time using
  • Narrow down your audience. Generation Z isn't monolithic; there are quite a few differences within it. Do your community members tend to be older Gen Zers, who border on the millennial generation, or younger ones, who may still be in college? Do they typically live in urban, rural, or suburban areas? 

Understand Gen Z Values

When you're seeking members, volunteers, or donations, you need to understand the value of your audience. McKinsey did a study on Generation Z and found that they share certain core values. These include:

  • Access is more important than ownership. Gen Z is less concerned with owning things like homes and vehicles and is more focused on easy access to what they need.
  • Open to different truths and points of view. They may, for example, support a variety of causes and organizations, even those that don't traditionally fit together. They are likely to belong to many diverse online and offline communities.
  • They value realism and pragmatism. If you are trying to reach them with your mission, it's crucial to emphasize actionable solutions and not just idealistic principles.

Develop Activities and Volunteer Opportunities With Gen Z in Mind

Getting Generation Z on board with your organization and mission helps if you create opportunities for them to participate that will resonate with their values. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Reach them where they are active. As Gen Zers are very active on social media platforms and YouTube, connect with them via videos, Instagram Stories, and other platforms.
  • Make your opportunities flexible. Generation Z embraces policies such as flexible working hours. Many are busy with classes, jobs, socializing, and other activities. They aren't fond of rigid schedules. Offer them flexible times to participate and volunteer.
  • Offer virtual activities. People of all ages are still looking for in-person experiences, of course. But, since the pandemic, organizations are more aware than ever of how much can be accomplished online, including events. Digitally savvy Gen Zers can contribute a great deal in areas such as content creation, graphic design, SEO, and social media marketing.

Build Trust and Be Authentic

Whereas older generations are more accustomed to traditional advertising, Generation Z is quite skeptical of hype and the hard sell approach. It's therefore essential to build trust with them before expecting them to join or donate to your organization.

  • Build community. As Gen Z is active on so many platforms, you should be as well. Communicate actively by answering questions and encouraging discussions. Your audience will trust you more if you engage with them as opposed to a top-down policy of simply generating content and expecting others to absorb it.
  • Start small. Don't expect large donations or commitments right away. Give people a chance to get to know you and what you stand for. Appreciate the smallest donations.
  • Be transparent about your values. If your organization works on certain issues, be clear about the underlying values you stand for. You may not please everyone, but your Generation Z audience will respect your transparency.
  • Be consistent and accountable. Gen Zers are very sensitive to hypocrisy. For example, a group that works on behalf of the environment should practice green and sustainable actions in all areas.

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Learn How and Where to Connect With Gen Z

When engaging with Generation Z, you need to be aware of some of their preferences when it comes to content and storytelling.

Have a Mobile-First Strategy

Remember that Generation Z grew up with smartphones. They don't only own mobile devices; they take them everywhere. They are very comfortable shopping and conducting transactions on their phones. Statista reports that 62% have recently made a purchase using their smartphone. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. You can also consider developing a mobile app for your nonprofit so members and volunteers can easily interact with you from their smartphones.

Reach Gen Z on Social Media

While Gen Z uses all social media platforms, including Facebook, they are especially active on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. Business Insider found that 65% of Gen Zers check Instagram daily.

Another way to reach Gen Zers is with influencers. Kantar's survey found that 70% of Gen Zers follow at least one influencer on social media, while 44% made at least one purchase decision based on an influencer's recommendation. You might consider partnering with some young influencers who would be good ambassadors for your organization.

Make Use of Visual Content

Generation Z, more than any previous generation, fully embraces visual content. As they scroll through photos and memes and watch videos, they are naturally attuned to seeking captivating images. You should use visual content on your website, social media pages, and other platforms to engage with them.

  • Videos —Both short TikTok-style videos and longer videos for educating your audience.
  • Memes —Gen Z enjoy viewing and sharing memes on social media.
  • Infographics —A good way to convey information in an entertaining manner.
  • Photos —It's best to use your own photos or at least high-quality photos and avoid stock photos, which give your content a generic look.

When choosing visual content, keep it relevant and on-brand as much as possible. It's fine to share an amusing meme or photo every so often. But, you don't want to post striking images just to capture people's attention.

Keep Messaging Concise

The internet and social media are reducing attention spans across generations. According to some research, the average attention span for Generation Z is only 8 seconds, compared to 12 seconds for millennials. You are more likely to get your message across using short and concise content such as social media posts and short videos.

Make Your Organization's Message Appealing to Gen Z

If you want your message to be relevant and compelling to a younger audience, you have to understand the values and preferences that Gen Z embraces. Many of these principles apply to older generations as well. However, it's especially important to emphasize values such as authenticity and transparency when engaging with Gen Z.

Be sure to track your results and pay attention to how your audience responds to your efforts. Analytics, polls, surveys, and comments on your blog and social media pages can provide valuable insights into how Gen Z feels about your content and campaigns.

Topics: Nonprofit Help

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