iPhones. Avocado on toast. Social media. Noticing a common association here? If you guessed that all three of these things are huge staples in the life of a millennial or Gen Z-er, then you’re absolutely right! These generations have made a big statement in recent years and they’re continuing to change the game – especially when it comes to fundraising.
In this article, we'll explore some of the key ways that millennial and Gen Z donors are changing the face of philanthropy.
So, what makes a millennial, a millennial? According to Pew Research, a millennial is anyone born between the years 1981 and 1996, while a Gen Z-er is anyone born from 1997 to 2012. To put that into context, this means that millennials are between 26 and 41 years old as of 2022, with Gen Z-ers ranging in age between 10 to 25 years. While this is a pretty big span of time, the two groups are often associated or mistaken for one another due to their similar life experiences.
Let's take a look at some common characteristics shared among millennials and Gen Z-ers and how they differ from generations of the past.
Both millennials and Gen Z-ers are digital natives, meaning they've grown up around technology and are extremely comfortable using it. In fact, most can't imagine a world without it. For older generations like baby boomers and Gen Xers, technology is something that's been integrated into their lives later on and is often viewed with suspicion or fear.
This tech-savviness gives millennials and Gen Z-ers a major advantage when it comes to learning new things or adapting to change. They're able to quickly pick up new skills and trends, which is a valuable asset in today's ever-changing world.
Looking specifically at the United States, Millennials and Gen Z-ers are the most racially and ethnically diverse generations in history. According to Pew Research, about one-in-three millennials are non-white, while nearly half of Gen Z-ers are non-white. This is in stark contrast to baby boomers, who are 78% white.
This diversity is largely due to changing immigration patterns and an increase in interracial marriages. It's also a reflection of the fact that these groups are growing up in a more globalised, connected world than previous generations.
Both millennials and Gen Z-ers are better educated than any generation before them. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 36% of millennials have a bachelor's degree or higher, while 24% of Gen Z-ers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
When it comes to social and political issues, millennials and Gen Zers are generally more progressive than older generations. For example, they're more likely to support same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana. They're also more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans.
Millennials and Gen Z-ers are often described as being "open to change." This means that they're more likely to embrace new ideas and ways of doing things, even if it's something that's different from what they're used to.
Finally, millennials and Gen Z-ers are more connected than any generation before them. Thanks to the internet and social media, they're able to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world. They're also exposed to a greater diversity of people and ideas than ever before.
As the previous points referenced, millennials and Gen Z-ers are unlike any generation before them. They're characteristically more diverse, more educated, more progressive, and more open to change. And when it comes to philanthropy, these generational characteristics are having a profound impact.
Statistics show that 84% of millennials regularly give to charity and nonprofits, an average of $481 a year. They make up a large portion of today's donor base, and were the generation to contribute the most financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As millennials and Gen Z-ers take the reins of philanthropy, they're redefining what it means to give back. Here are a few ways they're doing so.
Not to insult older generations here - there are plenty of tech-savvy Gen X-ers and even Baby Boomers out there - but when it comes to using technology, millennials and Gen Z really do have an advantage. They’ve grown up with technology and they know how to make the absolute most of it – whether it’s for finding information, communicating with others or making a donation.
This tech-savviness has led to a big shift in how people donate. In the past, donors would usually write a check or donate in person. But now, more and more people are choosing to donate online. And millennials and Gen Z-ers are driving this trend.
Millennials and Gen Z-ers are passionate about making a difference in the world. They want to use their skills and talents to help others and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is.
According to a study by Achieve, millennials and Gen Zers are twice as likely as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to donate to charity. And they’re not just giving their money – they’re also giving their time.
According to Nonprofit source, 64% of millennials volunteer locally and another 9% internationally.
Social media plays a big role in the lives of millennials and Gen Zers. They use it to stay connected with friends and family, follow their favourite brands and get their news. And when it comes to philanthropy, social media is playing an increasingly important role.
Thanks to social media, millennials and Gen Zers are more aware of the causes they care about and the organisations doing work to support those causes. They’re also able to easily donate to their favourite charities and fundraisers with just a few clicks.
In fact, 16% of millennials and Gen Z-ers give through Facebook fundraising tools and 15% gave on #GivingTuesday in 2017.
One of the most significant ways that millennials and Gen Z-ers are redefining philanthropy is through their use of peer-to-peer fundraising.
For those who don't know, peer-to-peer fundraising is a type of fundraising where individuals raise money on behalf of a cause or organisation. It's often done through platforms like GoFundMe or Crowdrise.
What's unique about peer-to-peer fundraising is that it allows anyone, regardless of their financial situation, to get involved in philanthropy. And millennials and Gen Z-ers are taking full advantage of this.
Millennials and Gen Z-ers are used to working in teams and they understand the power of collaboration. This is something that they're bringing to the philanthropy world.
Instead of donating to large, faceless organisations, millennials and Gen Z-ers are more interested in supporting small, local charities that they can easily connect with. They're also more likely to donate to causes that their friends and family are passionate about.
This trend towards collaboration is also being seen in the way that millennials and Gen Z-ers are choosing to fundraise. Instead of going it alone, they're more likely to team up with others to reach their fundraising goals.
Having been raised on the internet, millennials and Gen Z-ers have grown accustomed to having access to information at their fingertips. They expect transparency and they're not afraid to ask for it.
When it comes to philanthropy, this generation wants to see where their money is going and they want to know that it's being used effectively. They're not interested in donating to organisations that are opaque or secretive.
Despite the challenges they've faced, millennials and Gen Z-ers are an optimistic generation. They believe in the power of social change and they're not afraid to use their voices to effect change.
This optimism is translating into action when it comes to philanthropy. Millennials and Gen Z-ers are more likely than any other generation to start their own crowdfunding campaigns or volunteer for a cause they care about.
And while they might not have a lot of money to donate, they're more than willing to use their time and energy to make a difference.
Gen Z is the future. And while they're poised to define it with their own unique set of values, one thing is for sure: they're going to change the face of philanthropy. Are you ready?