How to Connect With Gen Z Supporters
When it comes to driving real change, Gen Z puts their money where their mouth is. They care deeply about a variety of causes and donate to the ones they believe will make a difference. Is yours one of them?
Done properly, your nonprofit can attract Gen Z donors and convert them into lifelong supporters. But first, you need to understand who they are, what drives them, and how to communicate with them.
This generation of people born between 1997 and 2010, has quickly surpassed Millennials as the largest single population segment in America. Currently, Gen Z makes up 27% of the total population of the US, according to Business Insider. Determining exactly how to connect with Gen Z supporters can be challenging because they are the most ethnically-diverse generation to ever exist in American history—not to mention, they are incredibly tech-savvy.
Key traits of the Gen Z generation
While Gen Z may seem similar to the Millennial generation in many ways, there are key differences in the way that they engage with the causes they care about. It’s important for brands and nonprofits to understand these differences so they can connect with this new generation. So, how do you make sure your brand stands out from all the noise, building you an audience of Gen Z supporters? First, you have to know how they interact with technology, what drives them, and what they care about.
They are driven by technology and social justice
Generation Z is arguably more connected to social issues around the world than any generation before them. This is large because they were born into a world where they have access to anything and everything through their mobile phones, which the average Gen Z got at age 12, according to Business Insider.
Born into a post-9/11 world with a 24-hour news cycle, Gen Z was exposed to tragedy and calls-for-action at a young age. As racial inequality and systemic racism drive the global conversation, the desire to have an impact as an individual is at an all-time high.
They have the whole world in the palm of their hand
According to Adobe, 55% of Gen Z respondents reported that they spent over five hours a day on their cell phones and 26% claimed to have spent over ten hours a day on their phone. Having constant access to both sides of an argument through the internet has created an outspoken and socially-just generation that is quick to organize and express their viewpoints. It’s also worth noting that having the world at their fingertips means that they usually have access to making online purchases or donations at the click of a button—but Gen Z tends to only give their money to causes and brands they believe in.
Gen Z is highly aware of their purchasing power, granting them the ability to hold brands socially accountable. AdAge reported that 69% of Gen Z are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. They want to associate themselves with companies and nonprofits that champion their cause. If your nonprofit resonates with Gen Zs, they can quickly become one of your strongest advocates.
They are strongly influenced by social media
With constant access to the internet, social media, and video streaming services, Gen Z is built on instant gratification. Compared to brand-loyal Millennials, Gen Z is also quick to flip their interests based on social trends and what they can show off on their social media accounts right away.
In regard to social media, the most popular social media platforms with Gen Z are Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. TikTok has also recently skyrocketed in popularity, with over 800 million active users in over 150 countries.
65% of Gen Zs reported spending time on Instagram every day
62% spent time on YouTube every day
51% spent time on Snapchat every day
Additionally, in a study conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics, 30% of Gen Zs stated that they felt YouTube ads were the most trustworthy of all advertising sources. If you’re unsure where to begin your advertising efforts, a grassroots ad targeting your niche audience on YouTube would be a safe bet.
Three ways to connect with a Gen Z audience
1. Show that you care about your cause
If you want Gen Z on your side, your organization needs to illustrate that you care about your cause. Don’t be afraid to tell your audience exactly what their donation does for your cause. What will a $10 donation provide?
Focus on making infographics and Instagram stories that make people stop and think about what your nonprofit does for the world. If you can demonstrate that with a YouTube video that tells a story, even better. Gen Zs want to see and feel their impact. The more impact you can display, the more supporters you’ll have.
2. Simplify your communication for shorter attention spans
As Forbes notes, the attention span of Gen Z is shorter than ever, averaging just eight seconds. If you’re focused on bringing donations into your organization, this means that you need to focus on one simple message from your organization.
Rather than explaining the intricacies and details of exactly how your organization plans to tackle systemic racism, your message would be better received if you simply stated, “Donate to end systemic racism.” Then, provide the details in a video or on your website so that supporters can locate that information if they are interested. Keep it short and keep it simple—Gen Z will thank you with their donations.
3. Reach them online
When comparing Millennials to Gen Zs, we have to acknowledge that they are at two completely different technological baselines. Gen Z has grown up with smartphones and has only experienced marketing in the digital age. If your outreach doesn’t yet involve digital marketing with display ads that have empowering messages, your organization will quickly be forgotten or skipped over. You have to reach Gen Z online if you want them in the trenches fighting for your cause.
Here are a few main ways your nonprofit can reach Gen Z online:
YouTube Ads: Focus on creating real and authentic videos that tell a great story about your product or service. Or, if you have the budget, narrow down your target demographic and create a brand partnership with a YouTube personality who can accurately represent your cause.
Marketing campaigns based on viral online movements: Remember that this generation lends their voices to internationally viral online causes like March For Our Lives and the #MeToo movement. If your company’s cause is related to a trending* viral movement, make sure to use that in your marketing strategy.
Empower Gen Z to try peer-to-peer fundraising for your cause: Encourage Gen Z to start a free online fundraiser to support your nonprofit by raising funds from people in their network. Gen Z wants to feel like they’re contributing to a better world. Show them that their fundraisers make a difference by sending a virtual thank you note that can be shared on social media to fundraiser organizers.
Offer resources to educate Gen Z about your cause: Equip Gen Z with knowledge so that they can become your strongest advocates. This gives them the opportunity to further your cause outside of donations. The Atlantic reported that an incredible 26% of 16-19-year olds are already volunteering. Take a look at these resources for equality to see how your nonprofit can encourage Gen Z supporters to educate themselves and take action.
*If your company incorporates social movements in your marketing strategy, be wary of seeming opportunistic. Take the Black Lives Matter movement––Gen Z has called out many brands for viewing it as a ‘trend’ rather than a real issue.