| Oct 25, 2022

4 Keys to Attracting Younger Donors to Nonprofits

While some Baby Boomers still prefer to write checks, a smart digital approach can give Millennials and Gen Zers an easy way to financially support good causes.

During the several years that I served as the chairperson of the board of a local church, I couldn’t help but notice that the younger generations were less engaged in the work of the church and gave considerably less financially than the older generations. I set about helping change that trend because I could see that if it wasn’t addressed quickly, the church was going to completely lose the younger generations.

Younger people aren’t giving as regularly to charities and nonprofits as their parents once did. It isn’t because they don’t care — they do care — but they often don’t feel as involved. Younger generations give generously when they feel connected to a cause. There are four keys to draw in more young long-term donors to your organization or project.

1. Understand Younger Donors

It isn’t surprising that three out of four Millennials contributed some sort of financial support to family, friends, or a nonprofit during the pandemic because younger generations are very motivated to change the world, either by their volunteer efforts or through their finances.

Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2010): 

This generation is passionate about causes related to gun violence and social issues. They want to make the world a better place, and they want to be treated as equals. Generation Z also has an interest in entrepreneurship. In fact, 41% of Gen Zers plan to start their own businesses, including their own nonprofit organizations. What’s more, they are willing to donate. One study published by Nonprofit Tech for Good reported that 59% of Gen Z gave to a charity after responding to a message on social media.

Millennials (born between 1977 and 1995):  

This group, which comprises almost 25% of the U.S. population, supports human rights and is very interested in volunteering. Another study found that 46% of Millennials volunteer for social causes that they care about, and 84% give to charity.

2. Connect with Younger Generations

Both Generation Z and Millennials are characterized by their use of technology to get their information. Almost 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds use social media channels. Because older generations don’t use social media as extensively, they sometimes neglect to showcase their nonprofit organization’s cause, upcoming events, and fundraising efforts through their website and social media channels.

Neglecting the channels popular with young donors, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram, misses an opportunity to connect with younger donors. If your nonprofit doesn’t have the time or energy for social media efforts, it might be worth hiring a social media manager to handle your marketing efforts.


3. Use Websites to Create Engagement

Connecting with young donors must be followed by an engagement strategy. A great place to start is with your nonprofit organization’s website. It is important that it is mobile-responsive because younger generations spend so much of their time on tablets and other mobile devices. If a company’s website cannot be accessed from multiple devices, donors will look elsewhere to give their support. 

It is also vital to ensure that your website has options for donating online. While many Baby Boomers are still accustomed to donating by check, young donors prefer to donate online. The more options that there are for giving, the better. Online options might include text-to-give campaigns, recurring donations, workplace giving, and online fundraisers. Making this one small change significantly increased monthly donations to our local church.

With younger generations having become blind to display ads, it is important to create videos to get their attention. Younger people are more visually oriented and more accustomed to learning through videos.

Keep website information up to date. If your organization’s information hasn’t been updated in years, donors will think that your organization is not active and will be more likely to just move on. In addition, make sure that your social media presence is clearly visible by providing links to your social media channels on your organization’s website.

4. Build Relationships With Younger Donors

Creating volunteer opportunities within your organization will help build a relationship with younger donors. If they feel they are a part of the effort, they will be more likely to become regular volunteers and recurring givers. According to one study, Millennials and Gen Zers make up half of all volunteers globally (25% each).

Ideas for creating community among your organization’s volunteers might include hosting events and possibly even giving them a “voice” in your organization by offering them leadership roles. The more involved the donors are in the organization, the more that long-lasting relationships can be created and fostered. Advertise volunteer opportunities both on your organization’s website and through your social media channels.

One way of involving young donors is putting them in charge of the organization’s website and social media channels. Younger volunteers will likely be able to better reach and relate to the audience that the organization is trying to target. 

Don’t forget to thank your young donors. Donors of all ages want to be thanked and acknowledged. Regularly reach out with emails and texts to let them know how much their donations are appreciated.

Connecting with potential donors of all ages can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can demonstrate to the younger generations through your organization’s online presence that your nonprofit is impacting lives and communities — and if you make it easy for them to give — you will be more successful at attracting and retaining young donors.

Rachel Paxton

Opinion Contributor, Strixus

Rachel has been a blogger, freelance writer, and successful online business owner for more than 25 years. She has a BA in Humanities and business from Washington State University. view profile


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