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Here Comes GenZ

MFG Archive, Opinion

Beth Kanter brings us up to speed on the emergence of GenZ and what it could mean for philanthropy.


Many nonprofit fundraisers know about and have specific strategies to reach, cultivate, and solicit baby boom donors, Gen X donors, and Gen Y donors. But get ready to reach out to Gen Z donors, sometimes called “PhilanthroTeens” or “PhilanthroKids.”


These potential donors are teens (and pre-teens) with a passion for social change and who grew up not knowing what it was like to not to have a cell phone or be connected to Facebook. That generation has been dubbed as “Generation Z.” They are also known as “Qwerty Monsters” who send hundreds of text messages a day and don’t even like to use their phone for calls (and with two teens in my house, I can attest this is true). But it is more than the technology that makes them so interesting to fundraisers, it is also their passion to do good in the world.


I’ve been seeing a lot of examples of kids and crowdfunding. And last year, when I interviewed Barb Newhouse, President & Chief Executive Officer ALS Association and discuss the Ice Bucket Challenge, she mentioned they acquired many new “Gen Z” donors.  Newhouse was in a meeting when a staff member interrupted because a ten year old was in the office and wanted to meet with her.  The young philanthropist handed her $100 for ALS that he has raised. He told her, “And there is more to come!” How do nonprofits reach out to this generation? Here’s an example from Unicef. But remember, these “PhilanthroKids” are not necessarily the donors of tomorrow, in many case they are the donors of today and want to do it their way. Here’s some examples of 10 big time philanthropists who are kids, including a 13 year old who raised $600,000 for charity.


While many children are taught about giving to charity at home, we are seeing more and more philanthropy curriculum being integrated into the classroom. The Giving 2.0 Mooc is an example at the college level where college students are not only learning about the world of philanthropy, but are also giving away a grant to a nonprofit organization as part of their work. But is philanthropy a part of a Gen Y’s schooling? During the recent ALS IceBucket Challenge, lots of kids were involved and I noticed some educators, like Vicki Davis, incorporating it as a classroom lesson.


The GivingTuesday Curriculum includes ten lesson plans that helps understand philanthropy and helps them reflect and develop their own philanthropic initiatives by choosing a nonprofit in their community and partner with them on GivingTuesday.


Does your nonprofit have a strategy for engaging and cultivating Gen Z as donors and supporters? What does it look like?

Many thanks to Beth Kanter for sharing her insights into how your nonprofit can develop a fundraising strategy that includes your future, and even current GenZ donors.


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