I have worked in the non-profit industry for several years in a marketing capacity so I am not new to the concept that people must personally connect with a charity to support that particular cause.
For those of us that are adults, that most likely means we have been personally affected by the cause in question, or maybe we have been helped by a charity in the past. But for those in the generation behind us, how do we help them make genuine connections of their own?
I ask this as a parent and a charitable citizen, but also as a marketing professional very partial to the non-profit sector. How do charities and their marketing executives help transition our younger generation into loyal donors and key supporters?
As a mother of a four-year old, we have ticked off the regular means of charitable giving by donating clothes and household items, a gift to ‘Toys for Tots’ each year, and foodstuffs and money to hurricane victims throughout the country. But when it comes to creating an ongoing relationship with a charitable cause, there was no visible non-profit that encouraged my daughter to make a long-term commitment.
Adults are exposed to masses of advertising stimuli encouraging us to donate daily. We can go online and donate money to St. Jude or hand over loose change to ringing Salvation Army volunteers. But how fun and interactive is this e-commerce transaction for my four year old or the emerging Generation Z (those born between 1995–2014) looking for a human connection?
I am not trying to be critical of charities and their marketing executives. I have been part of the driving force behind ‘giving’ and trying to create meaningful stakeholders. Nonetheless, I have never looked at the process from a younger point of view until now.
We need to start focusing on our aptly named iGeneration that want instant gratification. After being raised in an unstable world, they are compassionate, open-minded, responsible and determined to make our world a better place. They want to give, and then receive the rewards of that experience in immediate succession. Who can blame them? They are the generation most familiar with the velocity of technology and social media.
It got me thinking. Harriet had been very concerned about the flood victims in Houston since Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc in August 2017. I suggested we started keeping her moneybox savings for the children flood victims. We could donate the money to a charity giving Christmas presents to kids that had lost everything.
By early December Harriet had saved over $50 in pennies and silver. Then came the challenge. Trying to find a charity that fit the bill. There are numerous charities helping locals in Houston rebuild and gain access to food, clothing and medical supplies, but other than donating online to several children’s charities there was no type of personal interaction she could participate in.
So we decided to make our own connection. As is life in this tech savvy world, I took to social media and found a second degree Houston contact that had lost nearly everything and knew many kids suffering the same losses. We were put in communication with a little girl called Gabriella who is eight. Harriet was delighted, and we have started a beautiful relationship that is set to endure the test of time.
This anecdote is a great personal accomplishment for Harriet. She is now keeping her next batch of savings for Gabriella’s birthday. But it does beg the question; how can charities actively market to the Post-Millennials (or younger Millennials for that matter) and help them create their own personal relationship with a charity?
This bond is essential for charities to survive into the next century. Yet we are still depending on the generous Baby Boomers and Generation X to fulfill all our charitable needs. The gravy train is going to end, and we need to look forward at what charities can offer new generations. Their expectations of the ‘giving’ experience are changing.
Non-profits are already over-extended for resources, skills and capital. Even so, they cannot afford to just assume the children of their current donors will follow in their parents’ philanthropic footsteps. Charities need to be strategic in their bid to entice the next cohort. Even in the current technological era of personal relationship marketing and customized communications this is going to be a challenge for us all.
A self-confessed "jack of all trades" marketing professional based in the beautiful West Palm Beach, Florida. I am passionate about the growth of my industry, and love to share my thoughts on the holistic world of modern marketing!