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New kids on the block: How to include young donors in your engagement strategy

Don’t write off young donors.

If your donor engagement strategy doesn’t include targeted efforts toward millennials and Gen Z, you’re missing out on a major audience according to a recent YMCA report on young Americans.

Here’s what the report found:

Seven in 10 Americans aged 18-38 said that they actively work to make positive change daily. And 57 percent of respondents believe their generations – Gen Z and millennials – are doing more than older generations to support issues of importance.

If those numbers don’t convince you that these generations can play a big part in fundraising, maybe this will: more than 62 percent of Americans aged 18-38 said they support one cause a month.

That’s a pretty large number to ignore.

And the majority learned of the organization via social media.


Sometimes referred to as the “Digital Generation,” Gen Zers are between the ages of 4 and 22 and grew up in the era of TikTok and Instagram influencers.

Surprisingly, this generation is less likely than their millennial counterparts to support an organization by sharing information on their social media channels.

The good news is, Gen Z is increasingly showing support for a variety of social justice issues. From gun control to human rights to climate change, there’s no shortage of issues that Gen Z feels prompted to act on.

According to the report, Gen Z is more likely to support a cause in person. You can get this generation involved in your organization by pairing their love for social media with their desire to get involved.

Organic social posts promoting ways they can volunteer or can help your organization are a great way to get Gen Zers involved in your cause.


Ah, millennials. They get a pretty bad rap. But when it comes to giving, they’re increasingly active. Ranging from ages 23 to 39, millennials make up the largest generation in the U.S. workforce today.

While they may not have as large an income as Gen X (ages 40-54), millennials are more concerned about social issues than older generations. They obviously act on this concern, too, because the top way millennials show support for organizations is with their wallets.

The best way to provide this age group with information about your cause is through social media. 41 percent of millennials choose social media as their preferred source of information, and that number is rising.

So, be sure to keep those feeds updated, and promote your message specifically to audiences in this age group.


As you can see, social media is a huge part of younger donors’ daily lives. Right now, 48.5 percent of those surveyed in the YMCA report said they learned of causes they choose to support through social media.

By actively planning and executing a social media strategy, you won’t miss out on this growing generation of donors.

With all the other channels that make up your fundraising strategy, social media can fall on the backburner at times. Check out our blog on planning a social media strategy to see how you can prioritize it.

Connecting with donors at a young age can help secure their loyalty to your cause and your organization as they grow older. (For starters, be sure to avoid topics with dated references like New Kids on the Block – most of these young donors hadn’t yet been born when bands like this were popular.)

Shane Thornal

Shane Thornal is an experienced leader within the digital landscape and serves as Senior Director, Digital Media, at RKD Group. Shane understands programmatic media buying and knows what questions to ask to drive campaigns forward. He is a strategic thinker, focused and extremely hard working. Shane understands how to build high-performing teams, has great industry knowledge and knows the triggers to pull to get the best out of everyone. He is driven and dedicated to his clients’ goals and objectives, and will not rest until they are achieved.

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