Non-Profit Trends: To Understand Recurring Giving, Look at Gen Z

Recurring giving to nonprofit organizations isn’t new, but increasingly it is included in lists of burgeoning “trends.” One key to understanding how such giving can succeed is to ask why the trend is growing.

Giving a predetermined amount automatically (most commonly, monthly), similar to a credit-card payment, appeals strongly to new generations, which each year loom larger in the U.S. donor pool. Although Millennials have been front and center, so-called Gen Z, born after 1996, is now about 25 percent of the U.S. population. By 2020, it will be 40 percent of consumers. And not for nothing is it sometimes dubbed “iGen” to connote citizenship in the digital and cyber cloud worlds.

That cyber citizenship goes far beyond immersion almost from birth in the world of PayPal and other online payment systems. As nonprofit staffs begin to adjust their thinking to Gen Z, there are a few widely accepted observations to keep in mind. Before turning to them, however, an overriding consideration should be raised. When using what is sometimes called the “technology trifecta” in fundraising—the web, the newly dominating mobile device, and social media—recognize that you are involved in a vast, rapidly changing experiment. And that experiments are most useful when their results are tracked, recorded, and analyzed. Data management systems such as those offered by Process Donations can make that easier, but the first step is to recognize its priority.

Let’s Talk About Gen Z

            Here, then, are observations of Gen Z that, by extension, help to get a handle on what might be called the “recurring payments mindset.”

  • For now, but this is rapidly changing, Gen Z’s very top giving priorities are few. Usually, the list includes at least youth, animals, and human services. Another priority is a passion for involvement in a cause, involvement beyond giving, by volunteering. Fortunately, volunteering and giving both represent commitments to a cause and catalyze each other. The message is involvement. Another consideration, closely allied, is authenticity. It is not that staffs of nonprofits are false or phony; far from it. But Gen Z, born and bred in the information explosion, with blitzes of attention-distracting “noise,” is allergic to life’s equivalent of online “pop-ups.” They want to get the essence, get it fast, and, preferably, get it with a nice stirring of their emotions. That means concise content, dramatic visuals, infographics, and, where possible, video: All of it driving at the point, the take-away, the action.
  • Whether or not, as some now argue, there is actually a Gen Z rebellion against captivity in the world of Facebook and Instagram, Gen Z places a high value on seeing/touching the reality. Local nonprofits have a distinctive opportunity to invite new contributors to “visit the work,” “check out the impact,” and “get involved.” That is the kind of involvement that moves the new contributor into the recurring giving category. If a visit is not in the cards, then stories, photographs, and videos should be authentic and emotionally (including visually) charged.
  • There are other ways to personalize contact with donors—potential, new, and regular. Recurring givers need constant reinforcement and contact that they experience as real, not canned. Emails can achieve that if you have access to a customer/contact management system (CMS) that stores information on interests, previous contacts, giving potential, volunteer status, and other personal items to make it possible to segment email contacts in order to speak to recipients as individuals. Smaller nonprofits, of course, can make literally individual contacts—again, using data systems to indicate when and how often due.

Your Home Base for Managing Giving

Recurring gifts, if they become a significant income source, will contribute powerfully to organizational stability, the capacity to plan, and “selling points” to use with traditional large supporters who want evidence others are pitching in.

That potential makes recurring gifts worth an upfront investment to get rolling and investment in systems for sustained attention to all aspects of those valued relationships. Process Donations can become your “home base” for management of data, contributions, information analysis, and targeted professional services that facilitate the management of every stage of recurring giving.

Use our website to acquaint staff with how we leverage new trends in fundraising that have special potential for smaller and middle-sized nonprofits: recurring giving, crowdfunding, website enhancement, peer-to-peer fundraising communities, and much else.

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