The Cultivation Process: How to Appeal to Younger Donors

How can nonprofits appeal to younger people so that they become dedicated donors? What are younger donors looking for before they get behind a nonprofit? These questions are common for nonprofits, no matter how large their donor base is and how many years they’ve been in operation. The opportunity is certainly there when 26 percent of Generation Z (individuals born in 1996 and later) already volunteer and 60 percent want their work to make a difference. In fact, the individuals who make up Gen Z are often referred to as “philanthroteens” because of their motivation to support nonprofits and make a strong impact.

When you reach out to donors from any generation, you are effectively setting the stage for a relationship that lasts their lifetime. By taking the right approach, you can execute strategies that will appeal to younger donors and cultivate their support for years to come.

What is Donor Cultivation?

Cultivation is everything your nonprofit does from the time you identify a person, business or foundation as a good prospect until the time you make an ask of that person or entity. It includes all of the communications and interactions that occur between your nonprofit and a prospect.

As any nonprofit knows, the overarching goal when cultivating donors is ultimately asking them for a contribution. Your donor relationship-building efforts should always be focused on moving the prospect closer to the organization so that you can eventually convert them to becoming an ongoing donor.

For younger donors, the cultivation process should feel like a funnel. As you move through the different stages of engagement, you’ll have a smaller group of people who have a real interest in your organization and will be more likely to contribute.

Start a Junior Board

Since cultivation and relationship-building take time, it’s important to integrate strategies, programs and other opportunities that directly appeal to younger donors. Junior boards, or young professional committees, can help you attract a new donor base that you may not have appealed to before. Giving young professionals the chance to serve on your board will make them feel like they can impact future fundraisers and other key initiatives.

By participating on a junior board, young donors will become more passionate about the nonprofit’s mission, which will likely lead to years of support and loyalty. Additionally, junior boards provide a great way for nonprofits to cultivate a group of advocates who will spread the word about the organization to their peers.

Create Memorable Donor Videos

People retain visual content better than pages of text. According to several marketing studies, viewers typically remember 95 percent of a message when it is watched, compared to only 10 percent when it is read. Since videos are more engaging to people than any other type of content medium, creating memorable donor “thank you” videos is essential for generating enthusiasm in younger donors. These videos should show younger donors all of the great things their contributions made possible.

You can also record or livestream any event, charity dinner, keynote speaker or program you host and post it on your website. Having this type of content available will not only appeal to younger, tech-savvy donors, but it may also lead to free advertising for your organization as they share your videos with their followers and friends.

Keep Your Online Content Updated and Relevant

A final strategy that will appeal to younger donors is sharing online content that is both updated and relevant. If a younger donor is searching for a cause to support, they will probably go online for related information via Facebook, Instagram or a standard Google search. If your website is outdated and doesn’t include any content from recent events or programs, younger donors will be more likely to think your organization is uninviting and even nonoperational.

Your online content should incorporate photos of real donors and staff, especially on social media. Are your photos telling the same story you want to tell your younger donors? Additionally, it’s a good idea to create a mailing list sign-up form on your website that potential donors can easily find and fill out. This way, you can send any new online content that you post in a monthly newsletter and invite them to events or volunteer opportunities for further engagement.

Finally, continue to court millennials in your donor strategy. According to a 2018 study, they were the most active in contributing to charity. Almost half of this generation donated to crowdfunding campaigns and 84 percent gave to a charity. They may not have the giving capacity as baby boomers, but if you communicate with them through emails, websites and social media, you stand a greater chance of converting them into loyal, enthusiastic supporters of your nonprofit.

We’re Here to Help

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our NPO specialists to discuss any question that remains unanswered about your NPO.


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