Four Tips for Nonprofits Communicating with Gen Z Donors

A new generation of nonprofit donors is emerging.

As Gen Z increases their time in the workforce and thus their disposable income, they’re poised to become the next generation of donors to social causes. According to research from Giving USA, they’re already on track: Gen Z is the top generation when it comes to frequency of giving, donating 11.4 times within a year.  

How can nonprofits communicate with this new audience without alienating their tried-and-true donor base? Following are four tips that can help organizations navigate this challenge.

  1. Understand audience needs, concerns, and preferences.

During Covid-19, nonprofits saw many Gen Z (and millennial) donors engage with causes for which they cared deeply, even when their purse strings were tight. If the emerging generation of donors is heavily driven by passion, it’s essential to pinpoint what specifically they are passionate about.

Communicating with Gen Z donors will naturally differ from engaging with other donor cohorts because they each will have specific passions, needs, and concerns. Nonprofits should do a deep dive into their donor base to glean insight into such nuances. This will allow them to tailor their messaging accordingly so that it resonates. Otherwise, their outreach runs the risk of feeling out of touch or not motivating enough to inspire action.

  1. Establish relevance.

Once nonprofits have a solid understanding of their target audiences, they should consider how they can not only connect their mission back to these insights but also establish relevance. To this end, nonprofits’ messaging should make the mission feel timely and, even more than that, urgent. There needs to be a strong reason why contributing to the organization now will make a tangible difference; Gen Z and other donors should clearly see how they can be part of this progress.

This means that nonprofits will need to stay on the pulse of timely news, trends, and other external factors that impact how their mission is perceived. What resonates one day may not the next, so it’s critical to stay abreast of what’s influencing different donors so that the mission continues to feel aligned with their priorities.

  1. Reach audiences where they are.

It’s no secret that Gen Z is a digital-native generation. What does that mean in terms of how nonprofits communicate with this segment of their donor population?  

The same Giving USA report mentioned above notes that 76% of Gen Z donates online. While communication mechanisms like phone calls, direct mail, or email all serve specific purposes, nonprofits may want to consider prioritizing mediums like social media when reaching Gen Z prospects and supporters.

A word of caution: This doesn’t mean that communication tactics are one and done, or that one should be leveraged at the exclusion of others. It may be appropriate to leverage a variety of delivery methods to reach Gen Z donors. Nonprofits should make sure that, regardless of how they message to their target audiences, they are learning from what works and what doesn’t and continuing to iterate to maximize their potential impact.  

  1. Tailor outreach.

This is not to say that nonprofits should focus on Gen Z at the exclusion of existing donors. Longstanding supporters have tremendous value. And older generations often have more to give. While donor demographics are changing, each part of the donor ecosystem is important.

Regardless of who they are trying to reach, nonprofits should make sure their messaging feels personal. When it comes to communication – and this is true for both nonprofits and for-profits alike – customization is key.

By Sarah Eisler

Photo by Jamal Yahyayev via Pexels