In the past few decades, many non-profits have fallen into the habit of catering all messages to the audience that’s traditionally been the highest contributing age group: the financially comfortable donors over age 50. If you’ve experienced a lack of growth that’s common for so many organizations, then you’ve likely already identified younger donors as a group that you’d like to include in your supporter base. 

These five tips can help you reach this demographic with your marketing messages and help those messages sink in to better drive donations.

 

GO WHERE THEY GO

Just like in real life (IRL), you need to hang out digitally in the same places your audience frequents if you want your messages to get through. 

a young woman in a pink shirt and glasses looks at a mobile phone

Statistics show that Gen Z and young Millennials spend exponentially more time on a mobile device than they do on a desktop, and most of that time is spent on Instagram, YouTube, and the rapidly growing TikTok. If you don’t think that your organization is a good fit for any of those platforms, then it’s time to get creative because I assure you that you can find a niche! 

For example, Share the Meal (a UN World Food Program initiative) uses trending effects, sounds, and meme formats to spread their messaging to a broader audience on TikTok. Their mission to end world hunger is a serious one, but TikTok is not known as a “serious” platform — and still they’ve managed to make it work.

Don’t feel like you have to tackle every social outlet, rather identify the one or two that are the best fit and learn how to use them well.

 

SHIFT THE MESSAGING

If you’ve been operating within the old marketing rule of “Tell them what you want them to know, tell them what you want them to do, and then tell them again,” then it’s time for something different. 

Direct appeals don’t have the same effect on Gen Z and young Millennial donors as they do on those in older generations. Why is that? Research shows that growing up inundated with advertising and sales-focused messaging has allowed this younger audience to switch off some of the automatic responses in their brains that these messages usually trigger. More pointedly–they’re not ignoring you, they’ve just developed a savvier barometer for genuine messaging vs. messaging driven by greed for profit. 

Since your nonprofit is focused on the impact created by helping others, make sure you can cut through the noise and get through to Gen Z and young Millennials by using campaigns that highlight those outcomes. If you can quickly and concisely show that supporters’ donations are going to do something good (and not just padding the org’s admin expenses) then you have a great chance of actually reaching your intended audience. 

Take a look at some of the messaging and techniques currently used by Charity:Water. In both their organic and paid campaigns, they spotlight the people and communities helped by donor funds, show exactly what kind of help was provided, and define exactly how much help a specific donation can provide. The only call to action is a subtle one, and it flows smoothly into the message instead of standing out like a command at the end. Rather than sounding like a pushy sales approach or a glossy marketing appeal, the campaign takes the organization out of the prime spot and instead connects the donor with the outcome. 

That connection is the secret sauce to fundraising with a younger crowd.

 

REDUCE TRANSACTION FRICTION

This goes for all online donations, but it’s especially important for Gen Z and young Millennial audiences: make the payment portion of the giving process as short and simple as possible.  

a young man in a red shirt makes a transaction on his phone

Reducing the number of input fields, questions asked, opt-ins or opt-outs, and other small steps in the checkout process can make a huge improvement to conversion rates with younger donors. Because they tend to manage their time differently and view efficiency through a different lens than even the older Millennials, your organization can easily win points by eliminating extras. 

Best practice? Stick to the basics like name, email address, and credit card information. You might even consider leveling up your payment experience by adding a “scan my card” feature that reads the card number from a photo rather than having a user type it in!

 

MAKE SHARING EASY

One of the key differentiators of younger people, donors included, is their drive to be part of something bigger. Think about it ⁠— it’s been the actions of groups of people under age 30 that have pushed many of the major historic changes of the last century. 

That same motivating force is valuable to the mission of your organization because of its magnetic power. If you make social sharing as easy as pressing a button, then your donors can spread the word about your organization and its work, attracting others to join in their efforts to help.

Another factor at play in social sharing is the fear of missing out (FOMO.) You’ve probably heard, “Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd,” right? That’s FOMO at work. It feels good to be accepted as part of a group, and that counts for nonprofit supporters, too. The popularity of peer to peer fundraising is higher with younger donors, and positioning your organization to partner with these eager audiences can boost your messaging ⁠— and your revenue ⁠— even further.

 

BRING BACK THE SNAIL MAIL

Remember the last time you got a piece of mail that wasn’t an account statement or a bill? How about a letter or postcard from a friend? A piece of correspondence that just celebrated something great? Chances are good that you have at least a faint memory of one because they’re uncommon and tend to stand out

a young woman in glasses reads a letter from the mail

Every day now it can seem like we’re struggling to avoid an avalanche of digital information. If you’re older than 35, then you probably remember a time when phone calls and physical mail were more common and helped to balance out the digital load. However, to the younger generations, these IRL methods of contact can be perceived as out of the ordinary and more “special” than email or online advertising because of their rarity.

Yes, there are sunk costs with physical mail that an organization must consider before rolling out a campaign. However, if executed strategically and kept to a cadence of once or twice per year, then these impact updates or soft appeals can yield a surprising return on investment. Reaching out with snail mail and then providing an opportunity for the recipient to take action digitally can further boost your results. 

And the bonus: no spam filter to prevent your message from getting through.

SET YOUR PLAN IN MOTION

If you’re ready to implement these tips to attract a new segment of Gen Z and young Millennial donors, Humanitru can help. Streamlined donation pages, a simple checkout process, easy social sharing, email and snail mail communications tools, and more are all included in one convenient supporter engagement platform!

To find out how Humanitru can make a difference in your digital fundraising and engagement efforts, contact us to see a demo today.

 

With over 20 years experience in traditional and digital marketing, Beth Brown has spent the bulk of those serving the nonprofit sector. Organizations and institutions that have relied on her strategy and skills include ChildFund International, Creighton University, University of North Dakota, Virginia Community College System, and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

Beth Brown

Nonprofit Marketing Specialist

Humanitru clients experience an average active donor growth of 69%

See how we can help you reach those who support your mission and grow your revenue today!