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The Donors of Tomorrow: Effective Ways to Engage Young Audiences


Young people are our future (donors), but many nonprofits are simply overlooking them. While most resources are allocated to big-dollar donors, you should also have a plan to engage Millennials and Gen Z in your mission to ensure the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit.

We’ll discuss the perils of ignoring younger audiences when it comes to donor cultivation as well as ways to turn these generations into your future donors. We’ll also walk through inspiring real-world examples of how organizations are using dynamic campaigns to reach young audiences and to generate mission-fueling revenue, and how you can incorporate these tactics into your nonprofit.

By the end of this session, you’ll know:

  • What motivates young audiences and how to pique their interest
  • What young audiences want from nonprofits
  • How to create effective campaigns that tap into younger generations, along with real-world examples
  • How young audiences are using technology to connect with nonprofits



Hello and welcome to the Donors of Tomorrow: Effective Ways to Engage Young Audiences. This is a Mighty Citizen webinar and I’m Rachel Clemens, and I’m joined by Caroline Fothergill. We’re going to do intros in a moment, but first let’s talk a little bit about what we’re going to talk about today. We’re going to talk about the long-term sustainability of your non-profit. When we work with our clients, a lot of their focus, and perhaps rightly so, is on major gifts and major donors - and those audiences tend to be in the older boomer generation. They tend to be in their 60s at least, but if you want your non-profit to be thriving in 20-30 years we want to go ahead and look at our younger audiences and how to engage them now so that they stick with us and become our major donors when they are able to do that. So, for your organization you will need to decide how much effort you put into younger donors, but you really don’t want to ignore them either. There is a sliding scale of effort there - and we will talk about what that might look like, today.

I’m Rachel Clemens and I’m the Chief Marketing Officer here at Mighty Citizen, if you’re not familiar with Mighty Citizen, we are a branding and digital transformation agency for mission-driven organizations. That means that we help non-profits boost their revenue and increase their impact in their communities - and we do that primarily through branding, messaging, marketing, fundraising, websites, analytics, etc. I have a funny story, Caroline will appreciate this I think, we put in to speak on this topic at AFP’s international conference. And that’s the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and when we submitted, they accepted us on the condition, so it was conditionally accepted, that I (Rachel) speak with an actual young person. A little bit of a stab to the heart to be honest, because they don’t ask you your age when you submit, they solely went by the photos. So thanks AFP, but I do believe that the presentation is way better having Caroline join me because she is the voice of the youth of America.

Thank you, my name is Caroline Fothergill, I am the Marketing Strategist here at Mighty Citizen, so I do a lot of content creation, but also measuring marketing efforts and their effectiveness. So by the end of this session today you will know:

  • What motivates young audiences to give - what do they care about and what’s driving them
  • What Millenials and Gen-Zers want from nonprofits. So when we say young audiences, we’re talking primarily about Millenials and Gen-Z. Within your organization you may also be talking about Gen-X. I’ve talked to a lot of organizations where they are like ‘oh our young audiences are under 50,’ and I’m like ‘oh my goodness I love you, thank you, I’m still young.’ So you will decide within your organization what you mean by young, but today we will be talking about Millenials and Gen-Z.
  • How to create effective campaigns that tap into these generations and basically get them excited about your organization.

Now I have to say up front that there will be generalizations in this session. You can’t really talk about generational information without making some generalizations. No two Millenials are alike, no two Gen-Zers are alike - they are unique and wholly different among themselves, but we will be talking about what drives them generationally.

I thought this was a good way to start our session today, the quote says, “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today.” Now you might be thinking, ‘where is that quote that could come from my father? Where does this quote come from?’ It’s actually from a Greek poet and writer named Hesiod from the 8th century BC. So all of this to say, that people have been doubting the young for centuries - it’s been going on for ages. We will not be doing that today. I am so excited for these generations, and we will be talking about the passion and the capabilities they have within them.

Understanding Young Audiences

So, let’s talk about what we’re talking about when we talk about young audiences. So these dates are not set in stone, but generally the Millennial generation runs from about 1980 (so born in 1980 or so) up to about 1994. Our oldest Millennials are joining the 40 club, so welcome, and our youngest Millennials are around 25. So they have been in their careers for a couple of years now. Some people call them ‘entitled hipsters’ some people call them ‘visionaries’ I imagine they are a little bit of both - you know, two sides of the same coin. And so, we will be talking today about how they see themselves.

Gen-Z (also these numbers are still changing and adapting a little bit) they tend to run from about 1995 to about 2010. So, as these graphics show, that’s a huge change - mobile phones really came (we’ve only had mobile phones for about 15 years) and these guys that show the youngest of them are not even quite 10. Are they social media addicts or are they activists? They do hunger for and to be influencers and they really treat celebrities and those they look up to differently than older generations. They look to social media to find their influencers. You can be famous pretty much only on social media at this point. And so, these audiences, we’re going to talk about how they have the potential to really change the world. Super excited - and I actually have a Gen-Zer. So, I’m also a little tied to them.

Average Attention Span

So the average attention span of these generations, and guess what the attention span of everybody, is actually 8.25 seconds. This number has decreased over the last 10 years or so - in the early 2000s we were up to about 12 seconds. With the proliferation of devices we have dropped to about 8.25 seconds - thanks Apple. And that is less than a goldfish, a goldfish has about 9 seconds.

What These Generations Have in Common

Let’s talk about what these generations have in common:

  • They understand technology - born and raised with computers in their homes. They really understand how technology should work and think you should too.
  • They are diverse and they celebrate it. These generations are more likely to choose ‘other’ on a census form than any other generation. And they want to see that represented in your branding.
  • They are used to being marketed to. We call it content marketing - still advertising, still marketing and they know it. They don’t want to be sold to. So we have a client, we were doing a focus group it was actually an association, talking about appealing to young members - and they brought in a young group and what they kept hearing over and over again was “don’t sell to me, I don’t want to sell to me, I want you to be authentic and real.” So we will talk about what that looks like.
  • They get their news and views from social networks. They often do this before - so they are more likely to get breaking news on their devices, in social, versus other generations where it was like reading and television.
  • They definitely want to better the world and their communities. This is great news for us in the philanthropic space because our generation has really arrived.
  • They want stories to build connections. This is a human trait, more so than a young person trait. I think of Humans of New York as a great example of storytelling - and that organization was able to raise over 3 million dollars in 3 weeks alone for pediatric cancer through their storytelling.
  • They give mostly on mobile in small spontaneous bursts. We call it ‘fits of charity’ Caroline is going to illuminate some of this for us a little bit later, but they are giving mostly on their phones and in small spontaneous moments.


Also about this generation, this is from Blackbaud’s 2018 Next Generation of Giving report, and what you will see here is the darker purple color is 2013 and the lighter violet color is 2018. You will notice that Gen-Z was not even on the radar five years ago or six years ago, and so they pop up here in 2018. This is the percentage of self-reported donors. So those generations that are reporting they are giving. And what you will notice is that Millennials are really up there with the Gen X now in terms of their self-reported number of donors. And Gen-Z is not that far behind, which we will talk about them as givers. This is kind of important to show the relevancy of these generations and where they sit among their peers.

This is showing the contribution to total giving - so they percentage of total dollars donated. Again this is from Blackbaud’s 2018 Next Generation of Giving report. What you will notice here, especially on the left here, is that Boomers and Gen-X and Matures are definitely still giving the majority of the donations - so they make up about 84% of total donations. That’s a huge amount, and that’s why we are giving so much focus on them. Millennials and Gen-Z make up about 16%, so they are up and coming, but they are lower for sure. On the right what you will notice, and what I want you to pay attention to, is their contribution to total giving. You’ll notice that Boomers and Matures are dropping. And the reason for that, might be many, but one of them is that they’re aging out - they’re old, we are losing them. But you will notice that the other generations are giving more and starting to be on the map.

This is some content from Classy, and I just love this - this is Gen-Z and they call them the philanthro-kids. Which I love because I’m like ‘our generation has arrived!’ we’ve been waiting for a generation to show up that really wants to change the world - and I feel like they’re here. Sorry if you thought Millennials were going to be it, I know we let you down. So just some fun facts about Gen-Z, they will make up about 40% of all customers by 2020, so next year (we’re recording here in 2019). So they are going to make up a huge portion of that population. 60% of them want their work to make a difference in the world - so they are visionaries, they believe in their ability to change the world. 76% are worried about the planet - if you are an environmental organization you have got to be focusing on this audience especially. 30% of them have already donated to an organization - and remember they are young. And then they are predicted to prefer mobile apps for giving. And just remember when they say mobile app that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and create an app - it just means that your mobile experience has to be really good; because that’s where they are giving. So just some great and exciting information about Gen-Z.

This is also from Blackbaud’s 2018 Next Generation of Giving report - you will notice that Millennials tend to give to worship, to children, local social service, health, and animals; where Gen-Z right now is giving more to children, animals, health, then worship, then social service. As a rule, these generations really want to think of themselves as allies, advocates, activists, they believe in the power of lifting all boots, and they tend to care more about large social issues than necessarily personal connections to a cause. So if you think about the women’s march, march for our lives - these are all young people movements, things that they have really pushed and they believe in equity, equality, and opportunity.

Listen to Your Data

Now if you want to reach younger audiences you’ve got to listen to your data. That means you have to have the data in your donor database - hopefully you have an idea of people’s birth dates and birth years. And you can look at that data and run it against your analytics and see which channels and content preferences these younger audiences have. So if you have that information you can look and see in which places are they interacting with us? Which content are they clicking on most? What content is driving donations from these audiences? Is there a time of year that they are more likely to give? A type of campaign that they are more likely to give to? So you can run this data, they are already telling you their preferences, through your content that you are putting out right now. And you want to consider segmenting these audiences generationally so that you do understand what drives them. So if you decide you want to do a campaign specifically to younger audiences - I would look at your data and analytics and see what you can glean from that about your particular younger audience.

We have gotten the question a few times - if you don’t have that information to start with, if you don’t have birthdays and you can’t break it out by age, you might need to put out a big donor survey with an incentive possibly, to collect as much of that as you can.

From a Young Donor’s Perspective

Ok, now over to Caroline. Alright, so here I am your Millennial guinea pig to share my personal habits, good or bad, and experiences. When we first did this together I thought it would be interesting to go back through a full year and see how many organizations I gave to and how much. So here’s my breakdown from 2018. And just for reference I was 27 years old at this time, I was in Grad school so I didn’t have a lot of disposable income, but I gave to 5 different organizations that year - and these were all one-time gifts, and these were absolutely all spontaneous ‘fits of charity.’ They were unplanned - one of them was inspired by a company match here at Mighty Citizen, so that was sort of the motivation. The others are clearly typed as social and political events, one was a natural disaster. Just this year, in 2019, I’ve started giving to a couple of organizations on a monthly basis, as a 28 year old. And that’s my first time doing that so there is hope to get people my age to start giving on a recurring basis.

I want to share one story and this was the disaster relief gift I gave that year - when they horrible campfire was going on in California, everyone heard about it on the radio. Every day it was all over the news - and a couple weeks into that coverage, I saw this one post on Instagram posted by - what you would call a micro influencer. She’s a jewelry designer on Etsy with maybe 10,000 followers or something and she was going to drive down to rescue a bunch of stray animals from the fires, bring them back up to Portland, and put them in shelters where there was room. And this is what motivated me to give - out of all the coverage I’d been hearing. This one woman motivated to do this on her own and started a Go Fund Me - this is what inspired me. So I went to donate to her page, but I didn’t have a Go Fund Me account. And I had to create this long account and fill out this whole form and it was night time and I was in my bed and then I didn’t have my credit card information and I was like - “you know what, I will just do it in the morning.” And then five days later I realized I never made that gift and I was like “shoot.” So instead of going back to her post, I just went straight to Go Fund Me and ended up spending like an hour looking through all the different fundraisers and giving to a different one. So it just shows that the technology has to be so seamless and easy or you’re going to lose me in that moment, in that ‘fit of charity’ when I’m motivated to give.

Because when you went back to Go Fund Me you couldn’t find her Go Fund Me right? It might have closed already or something, but I ended up giving to one of the big Red Cross ones after all that.

Young Donors Want:

Seamless technology

I think that story really brings that to life. In terms of your actual donation form - what that means is that

  • It’s not just mobile friendly anymore, it’s mobile first. Your site needs to be fully responsive. A lot of our nonprofit clients are now at the tipping point where 50% of their traffic is mobile and 50% is desktop - and mobile is continuing to rise. So it’s just thinking differently about your website. And Google wants this too, when they are prioritizing a ranking where you show up in search results they’re focusing on how your mobile site looks. So it really needs to be sharp and seamless. And this likely means customizing the donation form that you have out of the box with your donor platform. Doing some A-B testing to find what works for you.
  • Keep it simple. Remember my campfire anecdote. If you don’t need me to create an account the first time I give, then just don’t ask for it. If there are any fields in your form that you’re not using right away like ‘title’ or ‘address’ or ‘phone number’ don’t ask for it - keep it clean.
  • And lastly, your ‘thank you’ page. Give me something to share to brag about the fact that I gave - that is a totally Millennial stereotype about us wanting a lot of recognition - but it’s true. I want to be able to share some sort of graphic or video or use a hashtag to share that I gave to your organization.
  • And if you’re going to promote monthly giving, which you should nudge people in that direction, for Millennial and Gen-Z we’re used to this subscription experience. We pay $10 a month for socks, underwear, food, dog food, all kinds of things so we’re used to that and we’re ok with spending a small amount every month - if we feel like we’re getting something in return.

And Charity Water is obviously an amazing example of this with their Spring program that definitely targets young people. A lot of what they give in return is digital content. Like monthly good news - and I do give to them every month and I get these really sweet videos, a lot of personalized content just showing exactly what my impact has been. Even if I only give a little bit. And I love this message, it says “we’re building a passionate community of changers to fight with us month after month until every single person on this planet has clean water.” That is so tangible and it feels like something that we can achieve together.

Here’s another example, one of our clients, Meals on Wheels of Central Texas. And you can see they’re nudging a monthly gift on the homepage - this little donation bubble has monthly set up as the default. And of course when you get into the form you can select a one-time gift, but another point I was to make here is they have a beautiful photo of a young person right on the homepage. They are trying to appeal to people my age. We want to see ourselves and feel like, “ok other people, like me, are involved in this. It’s a young, fresh, organization.”

To Be Social

Right, let’s talk about social media. Don’t tune out, I promise it will be good. Even if you don’t like it, which a lot of us don’t love managing it - it’s really important and you’ll be happy to know that I want you to do a little bit less and do it better.

So, stop and count how many social platforms your organization is on, there are really seven big ones at this point. And if you are on more than two or three - I think you are doing too much. So you need to know where to target those young donors that you are going after. You can’t just say, “ok we want to reach all young people.” Let’s get more specific, is it a specific subset of Gen-Z that’s really passionate about climate change - which platforms are you going to find those young people on? One pro-tip is that a lot of CRMs actually have something called a social lookup, where based on the email addresses and other information that you have on your contacts it will find their social media accounts and you can easily go and connect with the people who are already in your database. So that’s a nice way, if you don’t have a big following, to start. User research may be required to determine which platform you should be active on and what kind of content the young donors you’re trying to reach really want to see.

Test, test, test - there’s no simple solution for social, you really just have to try things out and be willing to experiment and then look back and see and analyze what’s working and what’s not. So it’s a lot of experimentation to see what sticks, and if you try to think of that as being fun instead of frustrating. You need somebody to manage it and it really can be a big job.

This is another chart from that same Blackbaud report, and you can dig into this later, or pause to look at it more deeply, but it shows what percentage of each generation is on each social platform, and then which percentage is engaging with charities on that platform at least once a month. I think this is really interesting, and it debunks some myths - like the myth that Gen-Z is not on facebook. They are, they’re just behaving on facebook differently than where their parents can’t find them which is on Snapchat. And then Instagram is really becoming, I think the most powerful platform to reach both of these generations where we’re all kind of co-existing - at least at the moment.


So, I want to talk about a few reasons you need to be using social media and a few ways that you can be using it to track young people. We do love recognition. It’s true - we want something in return when we’re supporting you and that could mean physical swag merchandise, or it could mean digital love. Like this graphic is an example of a campaign we did with United Way for greater Austin, where they took their volunteers and donors and did a thank you graphic actually tagging them and thanking them personally. This is gold - because you bet this guy is going to share it to his own feed and sort of humble brag like, “oh look, thank you so much for recognizing me.” And then your engagement goes through the roof because they’re sharing it with their whole network.

Make your “thank yous” Instagram worthy - a phone call is nice, it’s personal, but it’s not really what our generations want. Because we want something we can re-package and share. It could be sending something physical in the mail that we can take a picture of that’s really beautifully designed and appealing. It could be something like a graphic or a video, something that we can share digitally.

Social Activism

You’ve definitely seen people put the equal sign or the rainbow flag, different filters (they’re called twibbons) over their profile pictures. We love this because this is an easy way, and this is totally the Millennial stereotype of we’ll put this up but not actually go and give or do anything, but it’s a good way to get us in the door and then you can continue to engage.

Social Platforms

So, let’s talk a little bit about each platform and how to use it for fundraising and relationship building with young people.


On Facebook it’s all about peer-to-peer. The birthday fundraisers are huge, I do think Charity Water was the first group to really capitalize on the birthday fundraiser - but they’re still a big deal. I think in the first year of the birthday fundraiser $300,000,000 was raised for charities - in that one year alone. It’s pretty incredible, and it’s not slowing down. So you need a big ‘donate’ button on your Facebook page, but beyond that, you need to be thinking about how to get your people to run their own fundraisers on here.


On Instagram it’s all about visual storytelling. If your organization isn’t animal-focused, obviously, it’s harder to tug the heartstrings. These photos are both really cute, but it has to be beautiful, visual, captivating; because people are scrolling fast - you need to catch their attention and then tell a story. Rachel brought up the Humans of New York example; they shared a lot of stories before they asked for anything or tried to raise money for anyone. So if you’re just putting out really beautiful story content I promise it will pay off. When you do ask for something people will respond because they’re bought in.

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories, maybe this is an area you’re kind of neglecting because it’s a lot of work and it disappears in 24 hours and it might feel like, “oh my gosh what an investment.” But it’s just like the name implies, it’s great for storytelling. This is an example from a refugee support group telling the story of what it’s like to go through the process of trying to seek asylum in the United States. And they told this story for days, followed different people, and then they asked for donations at the end. And it was really effective because people were already wrapped in at that point.

This is another example I really love. This is a polar bear protection group that capitalized on National Poetry Month and shared on Instagram stories poems about polar bears. Polar poetry was the hashtag - and they found different poets to contribute and it might seem like kind of an unlikely pair, polar bears and poetry month, but that surprise that delight on social can go a really long way. And this also did raise money successfully for that organization. I like how they have the (4 of 30) or (26 of 30) because I think it clues people in that there are going to be a lot of these and just keeps them thinking about the next one.


New this year - Instagram launched the donation sticker. So now you can actually solicit donations directly through Instagram. This is an example of a celebrity supporting an organization. So there is obviously the influencer side of this, but you should be thinking about how you want to 1) put out a lot of really great content, and 2) then ask for donations right through Instagram.


Similar to Instagram stories this is another format where it goes away in 24 hours. And for Gen-Z Snapchat is really everything. You can click through it faster but it will only completely disappear in 24 hours. This is an example from the World Wildlife Fund, ‘my last selfie’ was the hashtag and it was these endangered animals saying ‘don’t let this be my last selfie.’ This was hugely successful and raised significant dollars with, I think Gen-Z in particular, but with young people across the board. They hit their 30-day fundraising goal in 3 days with this campaign - because it’s eye-catching, it’s very curated (which stands out on Snapchat because everything else looks very raw and user-generated). So that’s one thing to think about is “how can I really catch people’s attention so they will stop and hold their finger on this for a second longer?” I think the beauty of this campaign especially is that they use the platform - the native functionality of the platform and the disappearing factor of the platform to tie into their mission of a whole species disappearing. It’s a really strong metaphor that it’s physically disappearing.


Twitter is typically not a platform that we would focus on for fundraising just because it’s so tricky. Things are changing so fast, friends are coming and going and they are so dependent on the news and pop culture (even more so than other platforms). But this example, this is another water organization, Water is Life, they capitalize on an existing hashtag “first world problems.” Which I’m sure many of you have heard that thrown around before. They took real tweets, or at least seemingly real tweets, of people complaining about their first world problems - like this one says “sat in the front row of a movie theater and my neck is sore.” And then look at the photo that they’ve combined it with to just make you feel guilt, shame, all of those feelings that motivate people to give and to wake up. This campaign raised over a million dollars in just three months. That’s incredible. By taking an existing hashtag that was getting a lot of traffic and a lot of attention and flipping it on its head. So that’s how you can be successful on Twitter - you kind of have to make a bold statement.


YouTube, I feel, is kind of the black sheep - hanging back in the shadows. YouTube is not only the most popular social media platform in the world - it’s the second largest search engine in the world. Everyone is using YouTube for different reasons, but Gen-Z in particular is on YouTube constantly. They soak up so much video content, and you can fundraise natively through YouTube - they do not charge a processing fee and they put out some new fundraising features this year. One of them is called Super Chat for Good - where you can actually host a live auction-type fundraiser and people can comment and give right there while you are running a live video.

And YouTube advertising is pretty affordable and very effective. So this is a platform to explore - even if you don’t have the capacity to create video content you could still advertise here and target in some really effective ways.

Good Design

So, I’m going to hand it back to Rachel to talk about design. Yeah so our young audiences expect fresh design. This is an age that grew up with Apple. So, when you think about the change in how we all look at design and how important design has become to brands a lot of that was ushered in with the age of Apple. This audience grew up with software at their fingertips that allowed them to design - so they know how easy good design can be. It’s no longer a differentiator, it is the cost of entry. It used to be that if you were a nonprofit and your stuff didn’t look very good - people could say, “well I get it, they don’t want to spend money on it.” Now, if your stuff doesn’t look at least decent they start to doubt you. Doubt creates doubt in other areas. So you don’t want to give them any reason to doubt you or your capabilities.

And remember that design is so often linked to technology that if your design’s not good they start to wonder if your technology is not good and all those sorts of things. A lot of people ask us, “is there a point at which the design looks too good and makes people think ‘why are they spending their dollars on marketing instead of programming’?” For people my age and younger - no. I mean look at Charity Water and these organizations that are really successful - they have beautiful photography and beautiful design. It’s within reach for just about everybody now - and with software like Canva, they can do a lot of the work for you.

Young people want to be delighted. Don’t we all? They want interaction. I will show you an example of this - this is from an organization called Saturday Place, this was their donation form/page. And you will notice when you land on the page the content that says, “I will tip the scale in their favor.” That is so empowering, that is such empowering language to think that you can have an effect on the kids that go to their camp. And so, you can select how much you plan to give, you can change it there - you can also use the slider that is on the bottom of the page to change how much you give, and the imagery and the content changes as you change your dollar amount. So there is a little bit of interaction happening there.

The other thing I want to call out on the left side is - right now the number is $100 and that is in the ‘basics’ category which is things like supplies, food, etc. If you give $500-$1000 you’re buying an experience. And just think of that for a moment - you are buying an experience for a child, that feels really empowering. And then if you donate $2500+ you are buying them a future. So I just love how they use content and language here to really empower the donor, but also that little bit of delight with playing with the slider or seeing the images change out.

To Be Included

Young donors also want to be included, they are participatory by nature. This is from the Millennial Impact Report and it shows that they really want to be included through Volunteerism. If you need a lot of volunteers within your organization - these audiences are great for bringing in to your organization for that purpose. 65% are more likely to volunteer if their co-workers do. 69% are more likely to give if there’s a company match - Caroline gave an example earlier. And 77% are more likely to volunteer if they can use specific skills. What this means is that a lot of these audiences are younger - they are looking to further their career. So say you have a writer, a Gen-Z writer who has just come out of college, they are looking to increase their portfolio - they might be willing to work with you to do some pro-bono writing. In exchange for getting some portfolio work for their book. So, think of it that way - how you can tap into them with their specific skills. And let’s face it they are skilled.

I have reached out to so many nonprofits, especially when I was right out of college, to say “how can I help you? Do you need content? Help with social?” These things that you think they would jump on - and a lot of times I didn’t get a response or it was like, “we don’t really know how to pull you in.” Even bringing them in on a project, like if you have a campaign you want to do for a young audience - bring in someone to help you with the social aspect of that, because it takes time.

Inclusion Through Experiences

They also want to be included through experiences. They believe in the power of collective action - again look at March for Our Lives. They believe in advocacy and peer-to-peer things. They want to bring their peer groups together and get involved through participation. They also, as we’ve noted with these birthday fundraisers, we’ve seen the rise in peer-to-peer fundraising and event fundraising with these generations. They also want networking opportunities - again, they’re early in their career, they are looking for ways to meet people, they are often new to the city that they are living in. And so they are looking for those interactions. Also, having young people in your organization helps lend authenticity to the fact that you listen to them and you want them there. And young people beget more young people. They see others like them and think maybe I need to be there too.

Also in terms of events, they are looking for experiences and fun events to share with their friends. Again, with the rise in peer-to-peer, but if you think about things like ‘Movember’, color runs, margarita runs - there is almost a run for everything now. And that’s in part come about with these generations who are looking for those fun experiences and things they can share on social as well. Consider satellite parties for your larger events. The Robinhood Foundation does a great job of this. They have a big gala, I’m not sure what the ticket prices are, but I can guess they are pretty expensive - especially for younger audiences that don’t have that kind of disposable income yet. So what they do is they host another party down the street at the pub, that is meant to bring other people in who can’t afford the higher ticket gala prices to also interact and have a night for the organization. Again, those off the wall events. The image here is actually from CASA their superhero run and I love this event - do it with my son, have been doing it for years. And talk about bringing in the younger audiences and Gen-Z - I’m sure most of these parents are having a conversation with their child about why they’re dressed up as superheroes and running. And then again - give them images to share. You will also notice that photo booths are at every event now. And that’s because this audience loves to take photos and share them on social media. So think about how you can get them to capture those experiences.

We also love anything that is nostalgic - the throw back for us. I went to a fundraising event this year that was all games from childhood - tether ball, four square tournaments with adults. And that’s pretty cheap to put on and people went 1) because of the activities and 2) because of the fundraiser.

Inclusion in Your Brand

You also want to consider how you can include them in your brand. They want to consider themselves to be part of a brand that represents them and their values. So they are really looking at a brand’s values and determining whether they want to be part of it. They want to see you as an extension of themselves. Who they align themselves with matters and they are very particular about the brands that they choose. See if you can give them a part that they can own - so what you’re looking at here again is an image from that United Way for Greater Austin campaign we did with them - all around making Austin greater. And so we created this frame that people could stand behind and it basically says “you make Austin greater.” And this was used at events and other places around the city. Also in that campaign - it was a fill-in-the-blank campaign, so people could put it as what makes Austin greater to them. And so you will see here that they use it for lots of different ways. They used it for fundraising - things like, “giving back makes Austin greater,” but also for tying in to the greater Austin community things like, “queso makes Austin greater,” and “live music.” This is a view of a couple of corporate partners for United Way. On the left it says “Deloitte makes Austin greater,” that’s chalked into a sidewalk at a clean-up event. And then on the right the Samsung break room wall. So, those of you familiar with United Way know that a lot of their money comes from employee giving. They partnered with Samsung to have their employees donate through their campaign - and so this is a place where all the employees participating in the campaign have written in what makes Austin greater to them. So you see, they have a part to play in the campaign and their voice is heard about what makes Austin greater.

We also developed a mural for them - a “You’re my butter half” mural and the idea of this originally was just to do a love-letter back to Austin - it was not a fundraiser. And it’s really just a piece of art that’s given back to the community as part of their campaign. So it started as something, but what has happened as a response to that is people have come and taken all kinds of photos with it. They’ve had graduation parties and families and organizations come - people have gotten engaged in front of the mural, they’ve had a pop-up wedding. My favorite might actually be the older couple in front of it. So, just across the board getting people involved with your organization matters.

Inclusion on Your Board or Committee

Also consider how you can include them on your board or committee. You may need to help them with financial assistance - most of us for our boards have a ‘give or get’ policy where the board is expected to help fundraise. These generations can’t do that, they don’t necessarily have the networks yet that some of your other board members may have - so you may have to help them there or have a little bit of a different metric for them in that regard. They will offer more diversity to your board. Not just in terms of age and race, but also in terms of viewpoint. They know what the latest technologies are - they use them for the most part. So, bringing new ideas into your organization is a good thing. They may push you to think differently and hopefully they will push you to think differently - we hear from a lot of organizations that their boards are made up of a certain type of person that is older, they’re whiter, and they’re old-school. They are looking for new ideas and bringing younger people on to your board might be a way to do that.

Takeaways and Next Steps

Ok, so wrapping up let’s take a look at our takeaways and our next steps.


So, first things first:

  • Technological prowess is crucial. If your tech isn’t working properly that’s the number one thing I would fix. Go in there and make sure that you’re not asking for more form fields that you don’t need. And that you’re not asking people to create an account unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Good design is the cost of entry. Again, they expect good design now - they know what bad design looks like and what good design looks like and they expect you to be fresh in that area.
  • Take note of for-profit trends like subscription models. If you think of Netflix, Spotify, BarkBox - all those have come about in the last few years they’re clearly having success. These generations are more used to paying for something on a monthly subscription basis - so how can you push that monthly giving to those generations? And I would add, think about how you could partner up with for-profit companies that young people already really like. Because we are used to that social enterprise Toms model of the two being linked and we really like that.
  • Let young people participate and shape your campaigns. They’re there they often want to help - how can you let them into your brand? Which can be terrifying to the brand managers but with good guidelines you can curate and get them involved.
  • And the kicker is that following these best practices works for young people, but it also works for everyone. Who doesn’t like technology that works? Or good design? So, it won’t hurt you to put these things in place with older generations.

Thanks for your time today. Thank you Caroline for joining me. We have more free webinars and recordings, tools, templates all available at mightycitizen.com/tools. We have, if you’re thinking about doing a campaign for young audiences, we have a free marketing campaign template that you can download. It has all kinds of questions you should be thinking about as you’re strategizing your campaign. And we also have a fundraising campaign metrics template. So if you’re going to be putting a campaign into place, this has all the metrics you may need to figure out how successful your campaign was. Alright, thanks and we will see you again.