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6 Tips to Engage & Empower Gen Z Fundraisers (From a Gen Z Fundraiser)

Kal Marcus
October 12, 2022

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the tropes about Gen Z at work. 

According to the Internet, Gen Z is “lazy, entitled, and doesn’t want to work.” 

As a Gen Z nonprofit professional myself, I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. 

The Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as people born roughly between 1997 and 2012. Compared to millennials and older generations, Gen Z tends to be more social justice-minded, connected via technology, and concerned with work/life balance. 

Another unfortunate defining feature of our generation: the pandemic happened during some of our most formative years. The pandemic changed the way that Gen Z professionals formed social connections, finished college, and carried out their first internships and jobs.

Gen Z workers will account for 30 percent of total employment by 2030 in the United States, according to a study by Oxford Economics. Whether you currently have a Gen Z professional on your development team or not, you will soon. 

Perhaps you’re a manager looking to hire some younger fundraisers or seeking ways to best work and communicate with the Gen Z professionals on your team. Everyone is different, and I’d always recommend direct communication if you’re struggling with a current team member. 

However, if you’re looking for some general ideas on ways to best hire and retain young professionals, here are 6 things Gen Z fundraisers are looking for in a nonprofit workplace:  

  1. Flexibility at work. This might mean working from home, a hybrid set-up, or flexible hours.  
  2. Open communication. Gen Z professionals are shifting away from hierarchical power dynamics in the workplace. A great way to live that value is being accessible and keeping lines of communication open, as well as giving young professionals access to senior leadership and donors in your nonprofit. 
  3. A workplace that prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Words are not enough - Gen Z wants to see action. In fundraising, this also includes an equitable lens on the classism and power dynamics that often occur between development staff, donors, and folks served by the organization. 
  4. Excitement for digital fundraising. Gen Z has had huge successes with crowdsourced fundraising and online fundraisers. Gen Z fundraisers are looking for nonprofits that celebrate that and are open to change. 
  5. Growth transparency. Gen Z is not one to tiptoe around conversations about promotions or raises. For best results, communicate openly about what growth looks like and put actionable measures for success in place, so there are no surprises when the annual review rolls around. 
  6. Create forums for feedback on your management style. In the nonprofit sector, annual reviews of employees is typical, but there is still not a norm of “managing up.” Normalizing that feedback goes both ways will help you more effectively work with Gen Z professionals. 

Do you have questions or more to contribute to this conversation? Join us on Tuesday, October 25  at 12 PM CST for a conversation with Gen Z professionals and managers about quiet quitting and ways to best work together.