Generation Z “Philanthroteens” Go All In With Charity Giving

By Lisa Marinelli on April 26, 2017
Nonprofit Discovery Nonprofit Marketing

Recently, while surveying current undergrads for a client interested in the giving habits and interests of college students, one survey statistic jumped out at us: When asked if, regarding a cause they really cared about, they’d be more likely to give money, raise money or not be interested in donating money until out of college, 82% said they were somewhat to extremely likely to raise funds for a large donation while they were in college.

This led us to look closer at the giving attitudes and habits of Generation Z, today’s undergraduate college students and philanthroteens.

This cohort have, according to our survey and many others, typically already had experience with giving money and/or time to a nonprofit cause. Starting when they were in middle school, they had the opportunity to crowd fund using apps like GoFundMe (launched in 2010) or Alex’s Lemonade Stand (started in 2007). And they did – according to Beth Kantor, 26 percent of Generation Z teens have started an online crowd fund, “and 32 percent have donated their own money (or allowances).”

But as surveyors, we hypothesized that, being on a tight budget in college, students wouldn’t be interested in or able to donate funds until they had graduated and were making their own money. After all, millennials, currently the young work force, are already known as open-hearted philanthropists.

Aimee Meade from The Guardian says, “To get support from Gen Z, organisations need to “hand over” campaigns to them.” Gen Z become champions for causes about which they are passionate and rise well above expectations of giving when they are able to take matters into their own hands. This cohort’s connections across social media are far-reaching, and they have power to engage their peers when compelled by a cause. For example, successful organizations are providing different options of giving to Gen Z that are not limited to money. These organizations recognize Gen Z is capable of offering time to volunteer so they are creating initiatives in which Gen Z can get involved and get their friends involved.

Meade mentions that “DoSomething created a Facebook app that directs young people to the nearest shelter to volunteer, move goods, adopt a pet or to simply to take pictures of the animals and share them on their social media networks, raising the profile of the shelter on their own platforms.”

Similarly, students at the University of Florida help raise funds for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospital by creating their own fundraising pages and rallying their friends to do good for families and children in their community.

A third nonprofit activating Gen Z’s philanthropic spirit is Positive Tracks and their U23 Challenges Program. Positive Tracks “enables young people ages 23 and under to design their own charitable athletic efforts to support causes that shape the world. Positive Tracks provides 1:1 help, mentorship, tools, and a matching dollar incentive to help youth sweat for good.”

Contrary to our hypothesis, Gen Z college students are proving to be a passionate crowdfunding cohort, willing to go above and beyond for causes they believe are doing good for humanity in their community as well as globally. They recognize that changing the world starts with connecting with the people around them to share new perspectives on issues that should not be ignored.


For examples of Generation Z youth who have gone above and beyond in raising funds for a cause, see our post “9 Remarkable Generation Z Students and What Makes Them Tick.”

For specific tips on how to get Generation Z involved in your nonprofit cause, see our post “5 Ways to Influence Gen Z Donors to Give to Your Nonprofit.”

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About Lisa Marinelli

Lisa Marinelli is a third-year Advertising major at the University of Florida and is currently interning with the Pariseaf content marketing team. Drawn to unexplored turf, she absorbs her surroundings like a sponge. She finds the perfect background music for every moment of her day.

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