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Gen Z: How to Engage the Next Generation of Volunteers

In just a few years’ time, the majority of the world’s population will be made up of Generation Z. Before you characterize these youngsters as out of touch, short on attention, or disengaged, you should know that Gen Z is poised to be the most philanthropic, socially-minded generation yet!

This new generation has a unique perspective on the world of volunteerism and philanthropy.
Forward-thinking nonprofits will find creative ways to engage and cultivate loyalty in Gen Z. By finding out what motivates them, you can successfully engage and retain Gen Z as volunteers and donors.

Read on to learn how to get Gen Z involved in your volunteer program!

Article Contents

Who is Gen Z?

Generation Z is a loose designation for those born between 1996 and somewhere around 2012 and 2015. The oldest members are just finishing college. Their parents are typically from Generation X or are older millennials. The U.S. The Census Bureau has named them the most diverse generation to date; over half of Gen Z are from minority backgrounds.

Understanding Gen Z's Mindset

If you want to understand Gen Z and their philanthropic tendencies, it’s important to consider the political, economic, and social contexts in which they came of age.

The younger members of Gen Z do not remember a time before the first African-American president, while the oldest were raised amidst the economic turbulence of the Great Recession. Many saw their parents lose financial security, their jobs, or their homes.

Gen Z as Volunteers

It should come as no surprise that Generation Z loves to volunteer!

According to research released by the British Heart Foundation, Gen Z is more likely to have volunteered than any other age group. Nearly half of Gen Z has volunteered, and almost 25% say they are currently serving.

That’s a very large pool of potential volunteers! 

Gen Z as Donors

Although members of Generation Z are careful with money, they are enthusiastic givers who are involved in social causes.

These young adults spend their time online, and most of their interactions with nonprofits and charities are on social media. A 2017 Giving Report found that 59% of Gen Z are inspired give a donation because of a message or graphic they saw on social media, while only 14% were moved to action through email.

During the pandemic, 66% of Gen Z donated money to charity, family, or friends, far outpacing donations made by both Gen X and Boomers.

What Are the Best Types of Opportunities for Gen Z?

To enlist the help of Generation Z, you will need to create opportunities that appeal to them:

Microvolunteerism

Many younger people want to support their favorite causes but need flexible opportunities to fit their schedules. Remember, Gen Z might be navigating course schedules or entering the workforce.

Microvolunteerism is a more convenient form of community action that’s gaining popularity worldwide. Microvolunteering opportunities are one-off activities and tasks that can be completed on your volunteers’ terms. These offer increased flexibility and accessibility for those who want to get involved but are limited by time or location constraints. Microvolunteering opportunities can be both virtual or in-person, which means anyone can take community action from anywhere.

  • Retweeting a call for volunteers
  • Sharing a post
  • Liking a photo
  • Sharing a link

Virtual and Remote Opportunities

The pandemic has taught us that virtual volunteers are essential to nonprofit sustainability. Remote volunteering has similar benefits as microvolunteering in that it appeals to those who require flexible scheduling. In fact, many volunteers say that busy schedules are their largest barrier to volunteering.

Virtual volunteering is also a creative way to engage the tech-savvy Generation Z, especially during their summer breaks or on weekends.

  • Speaking to seniors
  • Data entry
  • Graphic Design
  • Content creation for social media
  • Blog writing
  • SEO Optimization

What Causes Do Gen Z Care About?

Generation Z largely support social justice issues, such as #blacklivesmatter, gender equality, environmental sustainability, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial equity. Nonprofits that focus on human services, animals, children, and education are among those most supported by Gen Z donors. Gen Z is also more likely to support causes that help victims of crime and abuse than preceding generations.

Gen Z is also particularly concerned with
corporate social responsibility. The majority of this generation want to support companies whose missions align with their own personal values. Whether this be giving back to the community or fighting for a greener future, Gen Z is ready to hold corporations accountable. As Gen Z continues to enter the workforce, nonprofit managers should focus on solidifying corporate giving initiatives and volunteering opportunities with local companies.

4 Ways to Attract Gen Z Volunteers to Your Program

1. Make Videos

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.

2. Implement Volunteer Management Software

In recent years, it’s become best practice for volunteer programs to implement volunteer management software. As digital natives, Gen Z is particularly engaged by volunteer management technology with a modern-looking interface, gamified content, and social network integrations.

When searching for volunteer management software, you should keep in mind the
 tech features that your Gen Z volunteers will love:

  • Volunteer Mobile App
  • Automatic Hours Logging
  • Online Registration
  • Online Volunteer Sign-Up
  • Contactless Check-in
  • Participation Badges and Gamification
  • Volunteer Resume and Impact Tracking

3. Log Volunteer Hours With a Mobile App

Some volunteer management companies have developed mobile apps to connect with younger volunteers. For instance, Get Connected’s volunteer mobile app has geolocation, which can quickly match Gen Z with causes close to home. They can even narrow down opportunities by their interests and skillsets.

4. Engage Through Social Media

Nonprofits like social media because of its wide reach, trackable impact, and affordability. No matter the size of your program, you can boost Gen Z’s donations and opportunity sign-ups by developing a sustainable nonprofit social media strategy.

Instagram and Tik Tok are the most popular Gen Z social platforms. Reels are highly effective for announcing new initiatives, calling for volunteers, and sharing photos of events.

Instagram also offers fundraising tools for nonprofits.


Gen Z wants to make an impact in the world they’re inheriting. Figure out how you can help them do that within your nonprofit, and use that to grow your relationship with them.

Additional Resources

Get Connected’s New Volunteer Mobile App

How to Promote Volunteerism at Home: A Guide to Recruiting and Engaging Virtual Volunteers

Nonprofit Social Media Strategy: How to Implement a Plan and Measure Success

Author: Annelise Ferry