Beyond Affinity Groups: Ways to Appeal to Younger Donors

Graphic of People Holding Hearts

Organizations that adopt a next generation-driven donor engagement strategy can expect a whole new level of participation as this generation brings their personal connections and passions to the causes they care about.

It is essential for nonprofit organizations to capitalize on this enthusiasm and show young donors that their work represents their aspirations and addresses their concerns. Organizations can extend their donor base and attract young contributors to amplify their brand message and reach. 

 When today’s younger donors consider donating or volunteering their time they tend to engage more if: 

  • The nonprofit shares their ideals and values  
  • There is specific information on how the donation will be used 
  • The donation process is easy 
  • They can donate small amounts at a time 

 Here are some ways to attract younger donors: 

Offer multiple ways to engage 

  Donate- Younger donors should be offered a variety of donation options, including credit/debit cards as well as online payment mechanisms like PayPal, Zelle, or Venmo. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly with eye-catching page layouts in your brand colors. 

  Share-Give younger donors opportunities to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising on behalf of the organization via social media. They can share your mission with their friends and family, increasing your nonprofit’s donor base.  

  Volunteer- Volunteering time appeals to younger supporters with limited discretionary means, who are typically at the beginning of their careers. Offering opportunities to volunteer, whether it is an individual or group volunteer activity will lead to a long-lasting relationship.   

Start with school children – educate them about the importance of giving back  

Giving tours to children at your nonprofit is one way to get them involved in charitable efforts. Offer them educational materials about all the ways they can contribute. Most children are unable to make a significant donation, but they can make a sizeable difference and teaching them early will help them become kind, upstanding humans.  While this is a long-term strategy that will pay off in the future, these interactions may also have a short-term impact on their parents' giving. 

Partner with young leaders' groups 

Partnering with or even starting your own young leader’s group can link community-minded young adults who want to fundraise, advocate and campaign to enhance your mission. The United Way of Rhode Island offers a Young Leaders Circle with various levels and benefits to become involved. This is an effective way for young people to become engaged and grow personally and professionally while expanding your organization’s reach. 

Partner with social enterprises  

 Social enterprise is a relatively new term. A social enterprise is a business that focuses primarily on social or environmental goals. It could be a non-profit organization or a private corporation. Profits from a social firm are primarily reinvested for social goals, rather than used to maximize owner or shareholder value. 

 Collaborations with social enterprises are a great approach to bring in more people to an organization and expand into new areas of activity. Building a network of social enterprises will enhance the character of the organization by bringing in reputable and trustworthy influencers. 

Young Leader Award Ceremonies   

Host an awards ceremony to honor young leaders who have made a positive impact on the community. Some examples of categories for awards are Most Successful Fundraising or Awareness Campaign, Volunteer of the Year, Impact Initiative Award, and Social Responsibility Leadership Excellence. 

 The United Way of Richmond and Petersburg offers the Young Leaders Society Award which is given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm for giving, volunteering, and advocating.   

Use social media – dig into community groups and networks  

Having a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and other popular social media platforms will help you reach out to younger donors. Creating a community group of young leaders on social channels like the United Way Young Leaders Society and Aloha United Way's Society of Young Leaders on LinkedIn can help build networking opportunities and connect supporters for your cause.  


Even though many nonprofit organizations focus their fundraising efforts on an older, wealthier clientele and often overlook younger donors, there is a big opportunity to engage younger audiences through the channels they are most likely to respond to, with messages that connect with them, if they have the correct tools. 



Posted by Lori Babyak

Lori Babyak is a former Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has over ten years marketing and communications experience within the nonprofit sector.