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How to Engage the New Generation of Donors

Are you one of thousands of nonprofits currently facing the challenge of an aging donor pool?

This is one of the most common requests we receive from clients: how to draw new audiences to care about their cause. Generation Z, people born in 1996 and after, make up more than 40 percent of all customers, or in our terms, prospective philanthropists. 

Every generation has its own unique preferences shaped by technological advancements and the economy they grew up in so it is important that you adapt your strategy to personalize engagement in a manner best suited to your audience. 

For example…

One thing we know about younger generations such as millennials and Generation Z is that they are highly engaged on social media, are most influenced by their peers, and use smartphones to engage online. From that information alone, we can begin to see how a strategy could take shape to interact with these generations: 

  1. Leverage paid media on social channels, preferably beyond Facebook.  
  2. Facilitate peer-to-peer fundraising and encourage meaningful social sharing.
  3. Ensure donation forms and/or donor landing pages are highly streamlined and optimized for mobile users.

Researcher and author, Josh McQueen, is an expert in generational giving patterns. In a podcast interview, he shares some reminders. Here are the highlights:

Understand that there are differences even within one generation. Older and younger members of each generation are unique and defined by 9-year intervals.

The rate at which donors are embracing new platforms, trends, and technologies varies even within generations. That’s why we recommend building a multi-channel strategy to cover all your bases. Plus, a donor who receives a call to action from three unique channels is twice as likely to donate.

Volunteers give more money than non-volunteers, and people in younger generations love to give to their friends.

  • Donors are the bedrock of every nonprofit, however supporters can be just as important. When attracting new generations, consider calls to action for prospective donors to get involved in other ways. This can be a catalyst for them ultimately making a financial investment.
  • Facilitate peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Leverage subscriber lists to produce compelling, engaging content that helps supporters feel like they are part of a community or club of like minded people.

Millennials give to twice as many organizations than baby boomers. Although this means they are likely to give, it also means they are harder to capture year-over-year as they prefer to spread their money across many causes.

You’ll need to find out the passion point or incentive that will inspire your millennial donors to stay loyal year-over-year, or give on a monthly basis. 


We often forget how good it feels to give. Our job is to give people the gift of giving, and make it as simple as possible.

Reduce the friction or any barrier to a donor completing a transaction. This means, ask for less information upfront, embed your donation form on a landing page, and follow these tips to optimize your website and donation page. Younger, more tech savvy donors expect a seamless digital experience that is highly personalized.

For more detailed information on generational giving trends, check out this infographic from