The future of the nonprofit industry is gradually leaving the hands of its traditional donor base. Donor trends show Millennials and Gen Z, or Zoomers, gave more than any other generation when it came to COVID-19 relief, and they remain motivated to keep putting their money toward helpful causes. Understanding charitable giving demographics and how this up-and-coming target group is engaged is crucial for nonprofits to maintain their donor programs and operations.
Charitable Giving Demographics
It’s important to understand the demographics of individuals who give to charities. The Pew Research Center creates regular updates to define generational groups. This includes the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.
In 2019, the organization officially added the birth years for Gen Z. Since then, other sources have weighed in on the suggested age ranges for Gen Alpha. Here is a current definition for each generation:
- The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (78-95 years old)
- Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (59-77 years old)
- Gen X: Born 1965-1980 (43-58 years old)
- Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (27-42 years old)
- Gen Z: Born 1997-2012 (11-26 years old)
Millennials and Gen Z are reshaping philanthropy and ushering in a new era of giving. A report by the payment app, Zelle, found nearly 75% of Millennials provided financial support to family, friends, or nonprofits since the COVID-19 pandemic began — the highest rate among any generation polled.
Younger generations of philanthropists mobilize quickly for causes they believe in and share these causes on social media and crowdfunding donations.
An example of this trend occurred when the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando experienced overwhelming donations after a deadly fire destroyed their location. News coverage of the incident reached thousands on social media, resulting in many new donors supporting the organization. Typically, about 10,000 contributors donate to the organization per year — but in seven days, they had more than 12,000 donors, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild their office.
American authors and historians Neil Howe and William Strauss coined the term, Millennials, in their 1991 book, Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, to describe Americans born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s.
Some of the characteristics that are often attributed to Millennials include the following:
- Entrepreneurial: Many Millennials came of age during the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and have faced a challenging job market. This has led many to look for alternative ways to make a living, such as starting their own businesses.
- Highly Educated: Many Millennials are highly educated and have been exposed to a wide range of ideas and perspectives. This has led many to pursue careers and business opportunities aligned with their values and passions.
- Flexible: Many Millennials also value flexibility. They are not restricted to the traditional 9-5 workday, and they don’t want to be tied to a desk. This leads them to explore opportunities to work independently, remotely, or as freelancers.
Some see Millennials as the most narcissistic, others as the “burnout generation”, and raised to be perfect and set up for failure. While others see them as the most diverse and socially conscious, changing the world for the better.
Understanding Gen Z
According to a report in Forbes, Gen Z might become one of the most charitable generations yet. While they aren’t giving the same amounts older generations are, they have the largest growth potential.
This shows how important giving back is to younger generations. They vote with their dollars and are willing to make sacrifices to give to the causes they believe in.
Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, iGen, or Zoomers, refers to the generation born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s. These are some of the characteristics of Gen Z:
- Digital Natives: Gen Z is the first generation to have been born into widespread access to the internet and digital technology from a young age, and that’s why they are called “digital natives.” Gen Z is also called “screenagers,” as they grew up with screens, smartphones, laptops, and tablets, and it’s a big part of their lives.
- Socially and Politically Aware: Many Gen Z’s are known for their concern about social and political issues and are often active in efforts to bring about positive change. They are more progressive and liberal than previous generations and tend to prioritize issues such as climate change, racial and gender equality, and LGBTQ rights.
- Diverse: Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, and it’s been estimated that almost half of Gen Z identifies as non-white. This diversity reflects the demographic changes and increased acceptance and understanding of different cultures and backgrounds.
How to Reach Millennials and Gen Z for Increased Donations
1. Online Donations
Online donations are key to Millennial and Gen Z fundraising and giving. We witnessed how online donation-making grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we continue to see growth year after year.
Make donating online easy. Your younger donors are accustomed to using the web for just about everything.
2. Donor Experience Mapping
Tracking charitable giving demographics, the touchpoints, and activities of your donors across their lifecycle creates data that can help build better experiences. This process can be visualized using a map that illustrates the key stages supporters go through as they move along their journey. Additionally, this helps to retain donor loyalty.
3. Online Activism Behaviors
Studies show that Millennials and Gen Z’s want to engage in what experts refer to as “social media activism.” For most younger adults, online participation trumps their in-person efforts.
Through correctly mapping, communicating, and engaging, you can direct this predisposition of the Millennial and Gen Z audience into donations and greater visibility for your organization.
Understanding the Motivation to Give
Evidence proves that Millennials and Gen Z will continue to increase their giving when organizations understand how and why they, as individuals, align with the nonprofit’s mission. While giving among other generations remains in the highest amounts, their overall individual giving has decreased — leaving the younger generations as the audience to watch.
Their motivations to give are equally important to understand. While Baby Boomers see giving as a duty, Millennials and Gen Z view charitable donations as a way of rolling up their sleeves and creating tangible change in the world.
Through working with a partner like AnswerNet Nonprofit, organizations can effectively tap into the motivation of these generations and charitable giving demographics. AnswerNet Nonprofit offers comprehensive contact center solutions specifically tailored for the nonprofit sector, including call center services, donor management, fundraising support, data analysis, and more. Our omni-channel technology allows your donors to connect with you the way they prefer.
Interested in learning more about how AnswerNet Nonprofit can help expand your organization’s reach? Click the button below to request more information from one of our experts.