Looking for volunteers in Generation Z

Kids and teens are ready to volunteer.
Date Published
06/24/2015

When your nonprofit organization is creating volunteer recruitment material, what age group are you specifically targeting? Many volunteering programs are designed to appeal to millennials, or Generation Y. While people age 19-34 should definitely be included in your nonprofit’s goals, an organization must start looking to Generation Z for support.

Generation Z includes anyone 19 or under as of 2015. Some organizations might view this age range as too young to be of any significant help. These nonprofits are missing out on a major volunteer source. The U.S. Census recently reported Generation Z makes up about a quarter of the total U.S. Population.

In order to enlist Generation Z, your nonprofit needs to be aware of what makes this group unique and how your cause can appeal to them.

Generation Z is ready to pitch in
Youth offers two things important to a volunteer effort: enthusiasm and free time. Kids and teens often look for activities outside of home and school. Recent reports indicate many young people are happy to spend their time helping a good cause.

A study conducted by the marketing agency Sparks & Honey found 26 percent of teens between the ages of 16-19 are currently volunteering. The report also discovered the current population of teenagers and kids is more engaged in global affairs than previous generations. About 60 percent of all Generation Z members polled wanted to have an impact on the world, compared to 39 percent of millennials. Millennials earned the nickname slacktivists, while this new generation is described as active volunteers.

Their optimism is one force driving their interest in positive change. The majority of teens who responded said they were optimistic about progress being made on important social and cultural issues. For example, 7 in 10 teenagers said they believe environmental policies will improve.

Acknowledging Generation Z as a ready and willing volunteer source is the first step to approaching them for volunteer opportunities.

Stories that include them
Storytelling is paramount when seeking volunteer attention. You want to make your cause come alive using examples and anecdotes that resonate with an audience to inspire them to take part.

When preparing volunteer pitches for Generation Z, you need to be certain your stories are personal to them. One simple way to do this is to include their age range in your narratives. The Beth Kanter volunteer blog highlighted the story of 10-year-old Noah Wong who was moved to raise money for children his own age. When Noah learned kids in other countries were serving time in prison, he felt the need to begin an online fundraising campaign to improve their conditions.

Does your volunteer material have a place for younger people? Do you have stories about your cause that directly affects their age range? When you approach Generation Z with volunteer opportunities you should include examples of how your efforts will directly benefit kids and teens just like them and why their particular age range is needed for support.

They are realistic and driven
Forbes magazine suggested the optimism of Generation Z is curbed by a sense or realism. This is the generation that was raised in a world shaped by events like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and a recession.

Information technology has allowed young people to grow up in a world where they are constantly aware of national tragedies and global problems. This means they are motivated to find solutions, but they expect those solutions to be realistic. Being raised with instant information capabilities means that kids expect results.

Your nonprofit must appeal to this generation by offering volunteer opportunities that show incremental progress. Initial volunteer drives need planned schedules ready to go and volunteer events should have specific goals. Your organization can utilize volunteer management software to create the information visibility this generation expects.

Technology is a way of life
Generation Z does not recognize a world without social media. The oldest among them was using Facebook as soon as they started high school. When they communicate, it is usually through multiple sources. 

These tools don’t just give young people access to information, it allows them to create their own materials. The KooDooz Blog, a youth empowerment resource, stated that when kids and teens can’t find nonprofits willing to work with them, they will strike out on their own. It’s not just Noah Wong, many Generation Z members have launched their own nonprofit campaigns using technological tools.

If you want this kind of initiative supporting your cause, you need to be sending your volunteer messaging through a variety of sources. You also need to be responding to their feedback in a timely and personal manner. Automated messaging solutions allow a nonprofit to keep up with the modern pace of communications. You need to make sure your nonprofit organization has the tech savvy office necessary to work with the next generation of volunteers.

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