How can the charity sector speak to Generation Z?

Generation Z are, in many ways, a completely ‘different breed’ to any previous generation.
Due to their digital upbringing and the complex social, political, and environmental landscape they have grown up in, they have an innate hunger to make the world a better place which many of their older counterparts do not possess.

However, arguably these factors are also making the transition from child to adulthood more challenging for Gen Z’ers than their parents and grandparents before them. The internet and social media mean that the world is a lot smaller now, there are no ‘borders’ online, so Gen Z are exposed to many more global issues and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders as a result.

Reaching a younger demographic and building the new generation of engaged supporters, donors and activists is critical for charities. So, what are the best ways for them to achieve the greatest impact with this unique group of individuals?

How do you drive impact amongst a Gen Z audience?
Keeping in mind the unique characteristics of Generation Z, those in the third sector who want to build solid relationships with this demographic and encourage them to support their cause need to target them in a completely different way when planning PR and marketing campaigns.

Research from CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) has highlighted that although there has been a decrease in consumer trust in charities (48%), those within the Gen Z demographic are more likely to deem charities as being trustworthy than any other age group. This shows that Gen Z are ready and waiting – however, charities need to find innovative, creative ways to target them which are going to speak directly to their values.

Understand the media landscape
It goes without saying that Gen Z have their fingers on the pulse with all things social and online. Therefore, its vital for charities who are looking to target this age group to keep the digital sphere as a central component of all campaign activity. Charities looking to speak to this age group should consider communications strategies for Instagram, TikTok, snapchat, and YouTube – in addition to key online media in order to cut through the noise.

For awareness raising campaigns which aim to educate potential supporters/donors on the cause, campaigns which have a UGC (user generated content) element can work well.

Generation Z like using their social platforms as their ‘voice’ and to show the world who they are. They are much more open to sharing their passion areas and understand the power of a viral action. Planning activity which involves people sharing a symbol, selfie or pose across their channels can be a great way to engage and make them feel connected to the cause.

Depending on the campaign and all the audience groups a charity is looking to target, there might also be huge benefit in incorporating activity built for print and broadcast media too. Often charity PR campaigns will have a dual purpose – and want to reach potential new beneficiaries as well as supporters. Depending on who the target beneficiaries are, a ‘traditional’ PR strategy including print and broadcast media may also be recommended, if this is where your target audience consume their news.

The power of influencers
Influencer engagement is a great way to reach Gen Z in their natural online habitat. Interestingly, this demographic is far less interested in glossy A-list celebrities than older generations. Instead, they are much more likely to engage with digital influencers who they feel share their values and interests. This is especially true when it comes to TikTok and the types of influencers Generation Z engage with on that platform in particular. Over the last year, a new type of influencers has grown up on the TikTok platform and have become a new breed of modern-day celebrities in their own right.

Charities can take advantage of this by building campaigns which provide natural opportunities to engage with influencers – maybe targeting 3-5 micro influencers with a smaller but more engaged Gen Z audience to be the face of a campaign or an official ambassador, rather than one glossy ‘traditional’ celeb who might have a huge following but less credibility amongst this demographic.

Gen Z want to hear from influencers who they feel they have a connection with and share things in common. It is not about enlisting the help of the ‘hottest’ celebrity – but identifying someone who has clear principles in line with the cause, are authentic, and curate content around distinct, relevant themes.

Say hello to the ‘philanthrokids’
Research from CAF around donation trends has shown that although Gen Z are less likely to make a straight donation to charity than their older counterparts, they are much more likely to really ‘buy into’ a cause – volunteering, buying ethical products which support organizational aims, or signing petitions/supporting protests.

This is great insight into the Gen Z mindset when it comes to the third sector, and something which charities can utilise to shape their communication strategies.

Gen Z want to feel that they are really part of something and can completely commit to a cause – rather than just setting up a direct debit for £10 a month. This mentality should also be taken into consideration when planning any activity around Generation Z beneficiaries and creative campaigns which are built specifically to target this age group.

To summarise…
Although there is lots of opportunity to engage with Gen Z, it’s important for charities to truly understand the individuals they are targeting and adapt their strategy to fit their needs.

However, by getting to grips with how Gen Z’s values, unique upbringing, and digital savviness impact the way they interact with the third sector, there is a great opportunity to keep building momentum and reach the people who can help make a huge difference over the decades to come, in a meaningful way.

If you want to learn more about how your charity can speak to Generation Z, get in touch with our award-winning team today to discuss how we could help.

Get in touch with the team