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Gen Z: How this Generation thinks about Community Involvement

The mindset of this generation is unique, but their commitment to the future of philanthropy is strong

It’d be difficult to work in the philanthropic sphere without hearing about the Millennial generation.They make up over a quarter of the population and have been entering the workforce in droves. They’re known to value socially responsible business practices and subscribe to the belief of “doing well by doing good.” While you may know a lot about Millennials, do you know enough about the generation in their wake?

Generation Z, sometimes referred to as iGen or the Founders, is still a loose designation that generally refers to those born after 1996. They are quickly gaining on Millennials, making up 27% of the global population. Because this demographic will make up the bulk of the world’s population in just a few years’ time, nonprofits should strive to understand these future donors more clearly.

Understanding Generation Z’s Mindset

If you hope to understand “Gen Z” and their philanthropic tendencies, it’s important to consider the political, economic, and social contexts in which they were raised. The younger members of Gen Z do not remember a time before the first African-American president, while the oldest came of age in the economic turbulence of the Great Recession. Many saw their parents lose financial security, their jobs, or their homes.

According to MTV’s research, Gen Z sees the world as “dramatically disrupted.” MTV contends they grew up without the traditional safety net provided by their parents, so are therefore more risk-averse than their predecessors.

Does Generation Z Donate?

Gen Z encompasses a large swath of age groups. The oldest Gen Zs are nearing college graduation, while the youngest members are entering Kindergarten. Though the majority of this generation has yet to enter the workforce, they are already exhibiting signs of a philanthropic inclination.

These so-called “screenagers” are digital natives; indeed, most of Gen Z cannot remember a time before social media. They spend their days online, and most of the interactions they have with nonprofits and charities happen on social media. According to the 2017 Giving Report,  59% of Gen Zs are inspired to donate to charity because of a message or graphic they saw on a social network, while only 14% are engaged by an email.

Consider that 26% of Gen Zs  have raised money for a cause, and 32% have donated their own money—or allowances—to charity. This generation is eager to make the world a better place; the wise nonprofit will find the right opportunities to let them.

Tapping into Gen Z’s Interests

Nonprofits should be excited to hear that people in Gen Z are adopting lifestyles that help them make the world a better place. When you consider that this generation has been inundated with more turmoil, corruption, and conflict than any other generation in American history (via social media), it makes sense that they feel an urge to contribute to a solution.

A recent study by Sparks and Honey found that 26% of individuals aged 16–19 already volunteer on a regular basis. That’s a very large pool of potential volunteers! But keep in mind the ingrained realism of this generation. To get support from Generation Z, Aimee Meade from The Guardian suggests you ‘’hand over’ campaigns to them.” In other words, allow them to offer input about how to run the campaign, and provide them with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. Events should have specific, clearly communicated, and achievable goals for Gen Z.

Gen Z thrives on online videos. According to one study, 67% of respondents aged 13–24 said they couldn’t live without YouTube. They’re clicking on videos 2.5 times more than those aged 25 and older. For nonprofits, this means that digital media and videos should be a top priority—even more so than with the Millennial generation. Videos about your organization’s impact, in particular, will resonate with Generation Z.

You should also adopt volunteer management software to engage with Generation Z, as well as track their volunteer hours.Gen Z are digital natives; software that was designed with the best practices of social media and social sharing in mind will be particularly useful in engaging them. Some key features that will appeal to Gen Z include a modern-looking interface, gamified badges, and the ability to share achievements on their social networks.


Young people in Generation Z, much like the Millennials, are often characterized as being out of touch, short of attention, and disengaged. But Gen Z may be rising to be one of the most philanthropic generations yet. Forward-thinking nonprofits will find creative ways to engage and cultivate loyalty in this generation early. Generation Z is eager to make the world a better place; let’s let them.

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