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Here’s What You Need to Know About the Gen Z Donor

OCTOBER 13, 2018

GenZers are unlike any other previous generations. Just because they’re not old enough to be donating does not mean they don’t keep up with the world in terms of social issues. Their urge to bring around a change is so strong that people have dubbed this generation “philanthroteens” or “philanthrokids”. This is why it is so important for NGOs to start learning up about this young generation and gear up for when they do join the workforce and start giving their money.

Who Are The GenZers?

It's important to know your audience before you try to cater to them. So let’s find out a few things about the Gen Z army.

Although there have been a lot of discrepancies about the exact time frame that Gen Z fits in, it is generally accepted that they fall somewhere between the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s. By this definition, the oldest GenZers are just now joining the workforce while the youngest are probably attending kindergarten.

This generation grew up in the post-9/11 world, a world where you have to be vigilant 24/7, whether you’re at school, home, or out with friends. Not just that, but they also see the horrors of war-ridden countries, terrorism, climate change, etc. This has led to them being the most socially aware generation yet, even more so than millennials. In addition, most GenZers haven’t even seen a world without Facebook, which is why they are constantly connected to each other (and to you) through the internet, in one way or another.

This means that know what's going on in the world and aren't afraid to call out the wrongdoings of even the most powerful, most loved people; this includes everyone from politicians to presidents to celebrities to brands. They also understand the need for change and demand it at their schools and workplaces, very passionately.

Growing up in a highly economically unstable, post-recession world, GenZers have learnt to live with the assumption that they won't have a safety net when they step into adulthood. For this reason, the GenZers that are in high school actively look for opportunities to further their career before even laying the foundations. Over 70% [1] high schoolers say that they’re interested in volunteering to gain work experience. This drive, however, isn’t just so they can live a good life; they’re also looking out for the younger generations that will come after them.

1 in 5 GenZers [2] say that their impact in the world is an important issue in their day-to-day life and more than half of high schoolers want to be entrepreneurs rather than employees. From 10-year-olds who open lemonade stands for charities to high schoolers who hold protests and start NGOs to fight back against gun violence in schools, this generation is one of entrepreneurs who are stubbornly adamant in their beliefs and don’t back down when face to face with even the most powerful adversaries. Gen Z is made up of people, kids, who have a strong urge to make a difference in the world, which is why they’ve been dubbed “The Founders”.

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Gen Z as Givers

The young age group of this generation means that they don’t compose a large portion of givers despite being so socially active. But that doesn’t stop them from doing the right thing. According to studies [3], nearly half of the teenagers in UK and US want to volunteer, 32% have already donated to an organization, 26 percent have raised money for a cause, and just over 1 in 10 want to start a charity of their own.

Where this generation can't donate, they make up by making their voices heard through social media. They band together with others who support the cause, whether it is people from their cohort or brands. This means that you have a very real chance of connecting with this generation if you are active on social media platforms and if your message resonates with them.

What You Can Do

First, you need to have accounts and pages on all major platforms where your target audience resides. However, making an account isn't enough; you have to be proactive. This means you need to regularly post and interact with your followers. Here, however, you need to know how to interact with them. You need to change your language to fit the Gen Z standards. Now, this doesn't mean that you start spewing out slang and shorten every word; it simply means that you have to change your tone from a formal organization to someone these GenZers can relate to.

While we’re on the topic of social media, the message you give on these platforms needs to be strong. A study [4] showed that 59% of Gen Zs were inspired to donate to a charity through a social media message. So you need to make sure that your digital fundraising strategy resonates with your target audience regardless of the generation they belong to.

The Gen Z generation spends an average of 3.5 hours a day on their phone [5]. With such a large part of their waking hours spent connected to others, they learn about social causes and issues plaguing the world all the time, if not online then through their social circles. This is why social fundraising is gaining so much popularity among NGOs. Social fundraising is where you get people connected to your organization (supporters, donors, evangelists, etc.) to talk about your cause in their social circle and educate the people listening to them on what actions they can take to support the cause.

Above everything else, GenZers want to make a difference in the world; they may not have the money to donate, but they do have a strong network, and they’re itching to put it to good use (beyond popularizing memes), all they need is your guidance. So, instead of taking it upon yourself to spread the word about your cause, allow the GenZers and their urge to make a difference help you. Set up drives and contests, give out merchandise, post blogs, anything that they can share and watch this tech-savvy generation work their digital magic.


Gen Z is living in a world riddled with the worst of humanity; from terrorism to war to school shootings, they have seen it all at a very early age. Despite all of this, they remain optimistic, not because they have hope, but because they have a voice and they know how to use it. The world under this generation has seen a surge of movements that speak up against oppression; MeToo, feminism, Anti-gun, and so many more movements are being led by teens that are not even out of high school.

This generation oozes compassion; they have the will to fight, and fiery passion that can drive them to bring a massive change in the world. They know that if they don’t speak up, no one will; they have developed a ‘why not me’ attitude instead of the ‘why me’ attitude of older generations.

In an article in the Guardian [6], author Beth Kanter perfectly summarizes these philanthroteens saying, “They are connected and they can see what is going on in the world… this generation wants to change the world with their pocket money.”

All they need is a chance, and all you have to do is give them that chance, be that chance for them.

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