How & Why Your Nonprofit Should Be Targeting Generation Z (The Fastest Growing Volunteer Demographic)

By now, you’ve probably read enough about the millennial generation to publish a mile-long book (or claw your eyes out, maybe). But what do you know of Generation Z, the upcoming cohort of teenagers and young adults who are the fastest growing volunteer demographic?

Depending on who you ask, the general consensus for those considered to be Gen Z are born in or after 1998 (for reference, the oldest of this generation will soon be wrapping up college). Before you go thinking, "Okay, but do I really care?” and write off Generation Z as not quite significant for your nonprofit, take a peek at these promising stats:

• 3 in 4 Gen Zs are highly interested in volunteering to gain work experience (
• 1 in 2 are inspired to donate from attending a fundraising event (2018 Giving Report)
• 1 in 3 have donated their own money to support a nonprofit’s mission (Nonprofit Hub)
• 1 in 4 already volunteer on an ongoing basis (The Atlantic)

It’s clear that Generation Z is receptive to fundraising and volunteering efforts, possibly for a lifetime — provided nonprofits can learn how to attract and retain them as supporters early on.

Build Your Nonprofit’s Presence On Social Media

Considering that Gen Zs spend an average of 3.5 hours daily on their smartphones, it’s not surprising that nearly 60% of them say they’ve been inspired to donate by a social media message or image (Global Web Index). If you want your nonprofit to scale well into the future, you will have to meet the next generation where they’re at.

Is your nonprofit just starting out with social media and feel so overwhelmed by it all that you’d rather crawl under a rock? It’s smart not to spread your team’s resources too thin — instead, consider nurturing your nonprofit’s presence on Gen Z’s Top 3: YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Offer Flexibility in Scheduling

Gen Zs are a busy generation. Though they’re open to giving you their time, they’re also extremely committed to their other obligations (schooling, part-time jobs, soccer practice, private piano classes… is your head spinning yet?). A critical way to retain these young adults is to encourage them to participate with your organization at a level that fits within their lifestyles.

Now, are there times when rigid time commitments for certain volunteer positions is an absolute must? Sure, but be totally honest and upfront about it — Gen Zs expect a strong sense of trust and transparency from any organization they choose to support. Lose their trust early on, and they’re unlikely to support you or share your nonprofit with their extensive network (both online and off). 

Consider Remote Volunteer Work

Working remotely is a trend that was largely forged by millennials… but will be completely embraced by the young generation coming of age right behind them. Gen Zs got their first phone at about 10 years old and have never known a time before the internet existed (Influence Central).

As more and more forward-thinking organizations begin vying for the unique skillset of Gen Z’ers, a surefire way to attract the brightest young talent is to offer remote volunteer positions. So don’t limit your volunteer prospects to just your local region — consider scoping out prospects from across the globe for tasks like email communications, web design, content writing, and social media management.

Show Gratitude Consistently And Often

Always remember that your young volunteers don’t have to give up their free time to your organization. Take them for granted, and they’ll be turning to the next organization that values their contributions. With 25% of the US population becoming comprised of Generation Z by the year 2020 (MediaKix), this is a demographic you would rather not write off.

Intentionally set aside time in your schedule to recognize volunteers for all the things they’ve accomplished. This could be accomplished through volunteer "spotlights” in your nonprofit’s emails/newsletters, or perhaps hosting semi-annual "volunteer appreciation” events, with themes suggested by your volunteers themselves! Plus, you already know your donors love receiving thank you cards — so why not send these to your volunteers as well when they complete a huge project, or recruit some of their peers into your organization?

No matter which method you choose, small but consistent acts of gratitude go a long way in boosting your Gen Z volunteers’ motivation. By doing so, your efforts will increase your chances of retaining these young volunteers to help accomplish your nonprofit’s mission for years to come.


Giving Report. "2018 Global Trends In Giving Report.
Influence Central. "Kids & Tech: The Evolution Of Today’s Digital Natives.

Kanter, Beth. "The Future of Social: Gen Z.” Nonprofit Hub. October 16. 2015.

MediaKix. "The 11 Generation Z Statistics Advertisers Must Know.” March 14, 2017.

Schawbel, Dan. "The High School Careers Study.” and Millennial Branding. February 3, 2014.

Statistics Canada. "Infographic: General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating.” April 8, 2015.

The Atlanatic. "Getting Gen Z Primed To Save The World.

Young, Katie. "Gen Z Spending Over 3.5 Hours On Mobiles Daily.” Global Web Index. April 25, 2017.

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