Non-profits and foundations brace for impact. The Millennial generation (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (those born after 1996) will soon dominate the American population. According to Statista, in 2017, millennials numbered 71 million in the United States. The generation that follows the Millennial generation, Gen Z, numbered 86 million. As these two generations accrue wealth, non-profits must appeal to these individuals as donors. This blog dives into three considerations non-profits and foundations must make to ensure they receive next generation giving. 

The Importance of Transparency and Results

According to the Top Employers Institute, Gen Z-ers are digital natives. This tech-saavy generation accesses smartphones 24/7 for accurate and reliable information. Not all millennials are digital natives; however, 92% of millennials own smartphones (source.) Given this access to information, millennials and Gen Zers may be less likely to take information at face value.

Non-profits and foundations should provide statistics and demographic information surrounding their cause areas and program success. If millennials can’t easily access or find this information, they may pass over your organization for a donation.

Furthermore, as discussed in ADWEEK, these individuals demand results. “’They want to see how their impact matters,” said Javan Van Gronigen, creative director and co-founder of fundraising software company Donately. “These donors are hyperfixated on where their money is going, and they like doing a lot of transparency.”’

An organization that understands these generations’ need for transparency is Global Giving. This non-profit organization offers crowdfunding for global charitable initiatives. They provide results straight into the inboxes of donors. After a donor contributes to a charity project, he or she receives email updates with information regarding their project’s progress. This information connects the donor with the project more personally as they map his or her donation with results. This outreach provides the level of transparency and results millennials and Gen Z-ers demand.

Cause-oriented versus Organization-oriented

Whereas older generations may have affiliations with well-known organizations such as The Red Cross or American Cancer Society, the younger generations are cause-oriented. According to The Forbes Funds, “85% of millennials are motivated by a compelling mission or cause” when donating. Furthermore, “when on an organization’s website, nearly 90% of millennials first look at the mission.”

Non-profits and foundations should reevaluate their current marketing and branding to ensure it focuses on the cause. Does the organization fund cancer research? Does the organization provide housing to low-income, single parents? Organizations should spend time clearly defining their mission and cause on their website and social media accounts.

Non-profits can also develop marketing campaigns surrounding days of recognition such as “World Heart Day.” These days offer non-profits the opportunity to provide more information about their cause. Furthermore, they encourage their donors to take action surrounding their cause.

First Impression Counts

It probably will come as no surprise to you that the younger generations have short attention spans. Gen Z-ers have an average attention span of eight seconds whereas millennials have an average attention span of twelve seconds (source.)

What does this means for non-profits and foundations? You must wow these younger donors with sharp, powerful, and compelling images that grasp their attention immediately. GuideStar provides statistics on the importance of messaging and images. “Two-thirds of Gen Z were inspired to donate to charity by a message or image they saw on social media.” In order to attract a younger donor base, it’s imperative that non-profits utilize social media in a compelling way.


Millennials and Gen Z-ers are eager to participate in the charitable landscape. However, they aren’t willing to donate to a black box. These individual’s needs can inspire non-profits and foundations to dive deeper into their philanthropic data. By diving into the data, these organizations can provide more information on their impact. The philanthropic sector should be inspired by these two generations’ need for transparency and mission-driven work. If they don’t work to attract these donors, they will miss the mark in accruing future donations and support.

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