Generation Z (GenZ) is the fastest-growing wealth base in the world.
It’s popular to speaking of “Millennials” when speaking of the “next generation.”
But this is misguided.
Millennials are about to enter their 40s, and Generation Z is about to start taking salaried positions that command a larger purchasing power within our global economy than any other single generation.
In order to understand GenZ, their attitudes toward money, their values which drive charitable efforts, and how institutions can begin crafting donation appeals to GenZ, it is necessary first to look at the hard data.
Once we can get our arms around who GenZ is and what they want, we can better understand how their financial practices and values will inform and shape the next generation of non-profit fundraising, church tithing, and religious participation of what will be our largest generation to date.
Who Is GenZ Really?
GenZ is made up of those born between 1997 and 2010.
GenZ currently comprises 25% of the population—the largest generation in the world. It is larger than Boomers, Xers, and Millennials.
GenZ is also the most ethnically diverse generation in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau)
More than that, GenZ is expected to reach 2.6 billion individuals by 2020 (MediaKix).
They are not as emotionally driven as millennials, are more oriented toward STEM disciplines (as opposed to the humanities-oriented millennials), and tend to be more socially and digitally mobile than millennials.
GenZ is, without a doubt, a true digitally native population. The oldest of GenZ were only 7 when the iPhone was released, and those only a couple years younger have never known a world without screen-centered parents.
These experiences and practices inform how GenZ relates to their growing capital, how their values channel that capital, and what are the best ways to fundraise from them as they grow into an older and younger community of professionally self-developed potential donors.
1. GenZ uses eCommerce more than any generation
GenZ spends a median of 5 hours a day on their phones. Only 2% of GenZ reports watching cable television at all. More than that, 96% of GenZers own a smartphone (Global Web Index) — the largest percentage of any generation.
As mentioned above, GenZ is a population of true digital natives.
GenZ will likely be the first generation to contain a large constituency whose purchases are 100% digital. In other words, GenZ will be the first generation to yield a true cashless population.
Churches need to take this into account as they strategize fundraising and generating tithes from GenZ in 20 years. If they don’t have a primarily digital fundraising strategy now, they are setting an awfully low ceiling for their capital potential over the next several decades.
2. GenZ is highly dependent on YouTube for information and education
Only 10% of GenZ reported using Facebook regularly, and over 78% have a YouTube account. More than that, 70% of GenZ kids visit YouTube daily (Influenster).
Defy Media’s “Constant Content” report found that GenZers watch 11.3 hours of YouTube per week. More than that, 67% of GenZers say they couldn’t live without YouTube (Defy Media).
This means that if companies, organizations, and churches want to reach GenZ, they need to start using video and audio quickly. The marketplace will only become more competitive in the next decade.
3. GenZ represents a large purse of global purchasing power
GenZ receives an average allowance of nearly $70 per month, comprising its $44 billion a year total (CoreSight research; Adweek).
This is a fairly small number, relatively speaking. Over $400 Billion is donated annually to charitable causes alone. And yet, most of GenZ hasn’t yet entered the workforce.
However, this number will grow by a factor of over 10x in the next decade, with costs of living decreasing as this generation becomes increasingly geographically agile.
This means that GenZ will play a powerful role in the shaping of the next generation of church culture—not only because of their youthfulness, but also because of their financial and political influence.
Churches unable or unwilling to cater to this generation will simply go the way of the dodo.
4. GenZ cares about humanitarian causes
The top 3 causes that GenZ cares about are: (1) children and youth, (2) animals, and (3) education (2018 Global Trends in Giving).
These causes are distinctively humanitarian.
GenZ cares about stopping pain experienced by humans and animals alike.
This set of values indicates a strong empathy among the GenZ population—perhaps more than millennials and Gen X—which means that churches who want to acquire the hearts and minds of GenZ as members and charitable givers need to figure out how to angle their mission in terms of preventing and stopping needless pain in the world.
Without an appeal to this core and distinctively GenZ value, churches will have a hard time reaching this growing wealth base.
5. GenZ is inspired to give most often by social media
The Crowdrise report (by GoFundMe) shows that GenZ (more than any other generation) is inspired by social media to give—63%, compared with Millennials 39%.
This means that there will be a growing competition between social media on-platform “Donation” buttons and off-platform donation links sponsored and shared through social media.
GenZ’s money and attention is increasingly directed through social media to other sites—the only question is: what will be the terminal point of that money and attention, and who will control what are the terms and conditions of that capital?
The variable of social media-prompted giving will only become more complicated in the coming years as GenZ attention becomes an increasingly valuable commodity.
6. GenZ is least likely to use Facebook
GenZers get their first social account, on average, at age 7.
But these social accounts are not what you think.
They’re not creating Facebook accounts.
They’re not creating Twitter accounts.
GenZ is more likely to use Snapchat and YouTube than any other social media accounts.
Put simply: GenZ uses YouTube, not Facebook.
That’s a hard pill for older generations to swallow: Facebook is for old people.
Pure and simple, GenZ doesn’t want to be on Facebook and doesn’t use Facebook. This will come as a shock to many, since only 10 years ago, Facebook was the cool new toy all the young kids were using. No longer.
7. Even with small capital, GenZ still donates at a surprisingly high rate
The oldest GenZ population is 22 years old, and yet with their small collection of capital, 32% have given their own money or allowances to a cause. More than that, 26% have raised money on behalf of a cause (NonProfit Hub)
This means that GenZ is passionate about charitable giving. But the cause has to make sense to them and relate somehow to their values of preventing and ending suffering in the world.
8. GenZ desires to donate their time as well as their money
77% of GenZ are extremely interested in volunteering to gain work experience (NonProfit Hub)
Nonprofits should take this as a cue: Get GenZ to be involved in your organization. Donors are much more likely to donate to a cause with which they have volunteered before. Volunteering fosters an organic relationship that cultivates nostalgia, value, and a reason to give when wealth is generated at a later age.
In other words—nonprofits and churches should be creating an economy of opportunity for GenZ now so that they can reap an economy of real-cash return in the next several decades.
Over to you
The information in this article is critical to generating an informed and effective strategy for partnering with the largest, fastest-growing wealth base in the world.
Churches must recognize the cash value of acquiring GenZ’s attention and brand loyalty now so that they have a nostalgic and value-informed connection when they are able to contribute in more powerful and scalable ways in the 2030s and beyond.