When most nonprofit organizations look for donors to invest in their causes, they often overlook young people. This is unfortunate, because although younger donors can’t always offer the money that older and wealthier ones contribute, they still offer tremendous resources — not only in regular donations but also through volunteer efforts and social media influence.

By knowing how to attract young donors to a nonprofit, your organization will build long-lasting relationships with teenagers and young adults who can become regular contributors as their bank accounts get bigger. In addition, you acquire valuable volunteers who know how to reach other people in their age group by leveraging important social media channels. 

For these reasons, it’s very important your nonprofit organization knows how to attract — and retain — young donors. In this article, we’ll examine how young donors are different from other contributors, the types of social media channels they use, and how to properly engage them online. 

How are young donors different from others?

Young nonprofit volunteers and donors fall into two main groups: Generation Z and millennials. The groups come from different backgrounds and have their own unique relationships with nonprofits.

Generation Z

Generation Z consists of people born between 1996 and 2010. They include teenagers and people in their mid-20s who grew up in the early 21st century. This generation is characterized by a number of traits, including:

  • A passion for activism. Having been exposed to the school violence of the 2000s, Generation Z feels particularly passionate about causes related to gun violence, bullying, and social issues.
  • A desire to be treated as equals. 26 percent of Generation Z aged 16 to 19 volunteer and are interested in making the world a better place. However, they want to be treated as equals in a group, not subordinates.
  • An interest in entrepreneurship. 41 percent of Generation Z members want to start their own businesses. Several also want to start their own nonprofit organizations. 
  • A willingness to donate. 59 percent of people in Generation Z donated to a charity after being inspired by a social media message.  


Millennials represent those born between 1977 and 1995. Many are in their mid-late-20s or early 30s today. This group is characterized by its own traits, such as:

  • Support for human rights. This includes international development, child development, and advocacy for victims of child abuse.
  • Growing representation. Millennials comprise more than 25 percent of the U.S. population, giving them a powerful voice.
  • Interest in donating. 84 percent of millennials give to charity, and 40 percent are enrolled in a monthly giving program.
  • Interest in volunteering. More and more millennials are volunteering every year. One study found that 46 percent of millennials volunteer for a social cause they care about.

What channels do young donors use?

social media channels for reaching younger audiences
Social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram are a key method for reaching a younger audience.

Both Generation Z and millennials are characterized by their use of technology to get information. Almost 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social media channels. As such, it’s important to showcase your nonprofit organization’s cause, upcoming events, and fundraising efforts through social media. Popular channels young donors use include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram

It’s also worth noting that email is still an excellent way to communicate with younger donors. However, this also means it’s important to use mobile-friendly text and layouts. This means using short paragraphs and providing links to information. Videos are also a good way to communicate with these more visually oriented generations.

Constant Contact can help your nonprofit organization reach new audiences on Facebook and Instagram by creating more effective social media marketing campaigns and identifying the audiences you want to target. Get expert advice from a Marketing Advisor or by using our online resources.

How can your nonprofit engage young donors?

Online donation statistics
Statistics point to a growing trend of fundraising donations being made online.

Knowing how to reach young donors on social media is key to engaging them. To make sure your nonprofit organization’s website and social media channels attract this audience, be sure to incorporate certain features, including: 

  1. A mobile-responsive website design. More people are doing their online browsing on smartphones and other mobile devices. It’s important that you design your nonprofit’s website to be mobile-friendly, making it easier to navigate on multiple devices.
  2. A “donate online” option. Young donors prefer to donate online. By including a mobile-responsive, online donation option, contributions to your nonprofit from younger generations can rise significantly. Constant Contact offers an interactive Donation Action Block to make this easier.
  3. Videos. Both Generation Z and millennials are visually oriented and accustomed to learning through videos. Show people what your organization does through online videos of your nonprofit’s work, its events, keynote speeches, and donation requests. 
  4. Regular updates. Young donors are accustomed to having up-to-date information. If your nonprofit’s website hasn’t been updated for a few years, you’ll want to make sure it displays the latest information and provides regular updates for your events and fundraising efforts. 
  5. Volunteer opportunities. Be sure to advertise opportunities to volunteer for your nonprofit on your website and social media channels. This is an excellent way to establish a long-lasting relationship with younger supporters who will be more likely to donate to your organization if they have a personal connection to it.
  6. A social media presence. Having a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and other popular sites helps reach younger donors. It’s also a good idea to provide links to your other social media channels through your website.

Once you’ve engaged young volunteers and donors through social media, it’s important to keep them engaged over the long term. To retain volunteers and supporters, your nonprofit can:

  1. Host unique, fun events. While many nonprofits use fundraising events such as fun runs and charity auctions, your nonprofit may be able to attract more supporters with more creative events. Consider hosting travel raffles, talent shows, dances, viral video challenges, sports tournaments, or even fashion shows if they fit your nonprofit’s style. You can also promise giveaways such as T-shirts and free food during your events that offer incentives for smaller donations.
  2. Give young supporters a voice in your organization. Young volunteers see nonprofit involvement as a way to develop their own skills. To give them this opportunity, consider putting interested supporters on your board, junior board, or a youth advisory council. This shows your supporters they can make a real difference and motivates them to remain involved.
  3. Put young supporters in charge of social media. Generation Z and millennials are known for being tech-savvy — so why not put them in charge of maintaining your social media accounts and website? These volunteers know how to reach the audiences you want and will appreciate using their skills in a meaningful way for your nonprofit.
  4. Thank your supporters. Like all volunteers and donors, millennials and Generation Z want to be thanked and acknowledged. Send them regular notes and thank-you emails for their contributions. (Just make sure your emails are mobile-responsive.)

Creating long-lasting relationships with young donors

While it may sound like a cliché, the younger generation really is the future. As millennials and Generation Z will not only fund your nonprofit organization’s cause but also become its main advocates for later generations, it’s important that you attract young donors to your nonprofit.

To make this process easier, Constant Contact offers a helpful guide for effectively using online marketing for nonprofits. The guide, and this article’s tips for cultivating and maintaining relationships with young donors, will help your organization grow and thrive with the support of multiple generations.