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Why Nonprofits Should Treat Gen-Z Donors as Investments

May 09, 2023 (5 min read)
Engage with younger donors to create a pipeline of giving for years to come.

As nonprofit organizations aim to increase their funding and support during a time of economic uncertainty, it is crucial to pay attention to the emerging donor demographic: Generation Z (better known as Gen-Z).

Gen-Z is the largest generation in the world and is set to have a significant impact on the future of charitable giving, especially as they are known for their active push for change. Like Millennials, Gen-X and every generation before them, Gen-Z’s buying and donating power is set to increase as they age.

In this blog post, we will discuss why you should treat Gen-Z donors as an investment to maximize their long-term fundraising achievements and give you ideas to start growing your community for years to come. 

Who is Gen-Z?

Before diving into the specifics, let's define who is considered a part of Gen-Z. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen-Z represents a diverse group of individuals who have grown up in the digital age and are known for their adaptability, creativity, and social consciousness.

Generally, they are characterized by their digital savviness, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion for social causes. Some of the largest movements in recent years have been created by members of Gen-Z, and that trend is unlikely to stop in the coming years.

Gen-Z donors: Young and optimistic about change

Despite growing up in tumultuous times, Gen-Zers increasingly believe they can shape the future, with 62% saying they have the potential to impact the world. Gen-Z is highly motivated by social causes and is more likely to support organizations that align with their values—often with a wide reach.

Compared to previous generations, Gen-Z is more likely to donate to nonprofit causes outside of their local community. According to Changing Our World, Inc., both Gen-Zers and Millennials are more likely to donate money to causes beyond their community, such as fighting hunger and disaster relief. Additionally, they volunteer time with causes that are closer to home, such as working with community development organizations.

They are not going to sit idly by and let events happen. Gen-Z is actively involved in making change, whether that is by donating money or time.

MORE: How to fundraise for environmental organizations

Treating Gen-Z donors as investments

Instead of focusing on immediate value, consider to the long-term value of a Gen-Z donor. Capturing a young donor for a small amount now can create a touchpoint with that donor in the future when they have more funds available to donate.

“While elder generations are leveling out on their giving levels, we are just seeing the next generation of donors come into their own,” Soraya Alexander, Classy President and GoFundMe COO, says. “This is especially true for Gen Zers, who are the most likely to say they donate because they feel it’s just the right thing to do.”

It may be tempting for nonprofits to eke out every dollar from existing larger donor pools, but building up a pipeline of younger, more diverse donors will pay off in the future. “This emerging cohort is showing early signs of being among the most generous and philanthropic generation in history, and it’s on nonprofit leaders to make their case to earn their support.” (Philanthropy News Digest).

By getting in with committed donors now, you’re setting your organization up for a loyal donor base for years to come.

The effects of aging on donations

As donors age, they tend to increase the amount they give to nonprofits, often because they have more resources with which to do so.

According to, Traditionalists, the oldest generation, give an average annual gift of $1,367 to charities and nonprofits. The next oldest generation, Baby Boomers, give an average gift of $1,212. Gen-X? $732. And Millennials give an average gift of $481.

As Gen-Z gets older and gains more financial stability, they are likely to follow a similar trajectory. This is why Gen-Z donors need to be taken seriously if a nonprofit is creating a strategy for long-term fundraising success. Neglecting the small donations now could cost you more in the long run.

Get ROI on Gen-Z donors by starting now

To get the best return on investment (ROI) on Gen-Z donors, start investing in them now. You can maximize the long-term value of Gen-Z investors by capturing young donors, cultivating their connection with the nonprofit, and staying in touch over time. After all, nonprofits are all about relationship building, so it is worth the effort to build a good relationship now.

For example, imagine capturing a Gen-Z donor for a $10 donation now. Over time, that donor's connection with the nonprofit can be furthered through various touchpoints, such as social media, email, and events. Even if the nonprofit invests $20 to keep in touch with that donor, that donor could end up giving $500 later in life. That's a ROI of $470!

MORE: How nonprofits can do more with research

Use technology to connect with Gen-Z

To stay connected with Gen-Z donors over time, embrace technology and use various digital channels to engage with them. Social media, email, and mobile apps are effective ways to keep Gen-Z donors informed and engaged with the organization's work as this generation is known for being digital natives. Capitalize on their knowledge and connect with them in ways they communicate. This includes engaging influencers or other spokespeople who can really connect with the Gen-Z audience.

You also should consider creating opportunities for Gen-Z donors to get involved in the organization's programs and initiatives. Even if Gen-Z doesn’t have the money to give a big donation right now, many members of Gen-Z have a digital footprint and can become evangelists for your cause. The right partner can help you promote your organization across social channels, increasing your reach and bringing in more donations.

MORE: Leveraging new technology and social media influencers to attract Gen-Z to your nonprofits mission

Maximize your fundraising potential

Treating Gen-Z donors as an investment is crucial for to maximize their long-term your value and impact as a nonprofit. By engaging young donors, cultivating their interest, and staying in touch over time, nonprofits can build a sustainable donor base that will support their work for years to come. As the largest generation in the world, Gen-Z represents a significant opportunity for nonprofits to make a lasting impact on the world.

Gen-Z offers unlimited potential as donors, and nonprofits need the best resources to maximize that potential. Now, more than ever, having access to the latest news, data, and developments in fundraising is critical to your success.

With Nexis® for Development Professionals, you have all that at your disposal. Whether you are searching for new donors, critical insights, or contacts, Nexis® for Development Professionals has the information you need to cultivate a long and fruitful relationship with Gen-Z donors.