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3 ways your nonprofit can attract young donors (and how to get them to keep giving)

Without younger generations, you’re missing out on connecting with what the National Census Bureau reports makes up more than half the US’s total population.

In this article we’re going to cover three ways to attract young donors and how to keep them giving.

1.  Build trust to attract young donors

A report prepared by Changing Our World, Inc. and ONE HUNDRED shared that “40% of Gen Zers and millennials need to do a lot of research into a nonprofit/charity before they feel comfortable donating money.”

While both Gen Z and millennials have some trust in companies, a 2020 Salesforce report found that Gen Z lagged a bit behind millennials, with 42% trusting brands and businesses compared to 50% of millennials.

Now, you’ve likely heard some of the advice here before. Be transparent. Show your results. But we want to be a bit more granular. Some ways to build trust with your donors include:

  • showing clearly where your donations go (infographics can be helpful for this),
  • sharing the outcomes of your campaigns,
  • direct testimonials (especially videos) of those you’ve helped and people who’ve worked with your organization (these can be landing pages or video and image based social media content),
  • express gratitude for your donors and volunteers in ways that resonate with them (this might vary organization to organization and by demographic), and
  • be consistent with your messaging.

The goal is to make this research as easy as possible for any potential donor. Consistency with your messaging, as well, will help people get to know you over a long period of time and, in doing so, build trust. Think of it this way: You don’t want to go on two dates with someone only to go out with someone who feels completely new on the third.

But, no matter what, when building trust, remember to be patient. Relationships and trust are built over time. As pointed out by Eddie Allen, the founder and CEO of Pacific Northwest Fundraising, in our recent webinar Getting Started with Donor Development, it takes an average of 12-15 touches to build a relationship, before a major ask should be made. And even after that ask is made and the gift is given, don’t stop messaging just because you have the money. The best donor relationships (especially with recurring giving) last for years to come.

2. Leverage influencer marketing

Influencer marketing also presents a fantastic opportunity to leverage an already existing channel of trust with an audience.

Influencer marketing works. Clever found that millennials are 54% more likely than preceding generations to buy something that was recommended by an influencer. And Morning Consult’s recent The Influencer Report found that “nearly one in four Gen Z women say influencers are where they most often learn about new products to buy.”

We know you’re not selling a product, such as makeup, but you are selling the product of the change you will enact with the donations you receive. You are selling your message and the promise of the work you will do to serve your organization’s cause.

The same report by Morning Consult also gives some good perspective on where to begin looking for influencers to partner with. They found that people mainly follow influencers on YouTube and Instagram, with YouTube the most popular platform for men and Instagram for women. We suggest starting with these platforms when looking for potential influencers to collaborate with.

And remember micro-influencers exist! You don’t need to work with someone who has millions, or even hundreds of thousands, of followers to get amazing results if you know exactly who you’re trying to reach.

3. Provide ways to give that aren’t just money

Don’t forget about volunteering. Give people the opportunity to give however they want. Just because someone isn’t ready to give financially doesn’t mean they won’t be willing to give their time.

Millennials don’t just give cash donations.

Bankrate.com found that while 29% of millennials had a preference toward monetary donations, 41% had greater interest in donating food, clothes, and other supplies, and 27% were more than happy to volunteer their time. A report by Changing Our World backs this up, pointing toward 70% of Gen Z and millennial donors having a preference to donating time over money. Plus, a study by Marketo found that 26% of 16- to 19-year-old already volunteer on a regular basis.

You get the point. With all the emphasis on donations don’t forget about volunteering.


Volunteers can be incredibly helpful, especially for events.

The point is, don’t prematurely cut off where relationship building begins just because someone might not be wanting to give you money from the get-go. Just because someone might have less disposable income doesn’t mean they don’t want to give.

If someone wants to volunteer or share, don’t cut off that opportunity.

Plus, you never know where that next big donor might come from.
Want to learn even more about attracting young donors to your nonprofit

It takes some work and a bit of focus, but hopefully we’ve helped you get on the right track.

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