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How to Attract Young People to Your Nonprofit

By Intern Blogger on 4/26/18 10:50 AM

Young people joined together at museum exhibition

You know that “big donors” come from older generations. But younger generations are just as important. Your nonprofit needs to invest in the future: young people – those who will hear your message, spread your cause, and champion your mission for many years ahead. Building relationships with young people now will allow your organization to increase its network and gain future support.

Why attract young adults?

Let’s face it – the older generation is shrinking, meaning your donor list is slowly decreasing. Investing in young adults is investing in the future: building relationships with young adults now could result in them becoming big donors in the future. Young adults have greater financial value to an organization over their lifetime because there are more years they can support you.

Because young adults use social media to promote causes they care about at a higher rate than older generations, building relationships with them could increase your organization’s “brand awareness” and cause you to be seen by multiple new networks. Your organization needs a diverse donor base to carry its message to a broader audience, and connecting with young adults will do just that.

3 keys to attracting young people to your nonprofit

1.   Leverage social media


It’s everywhere. Social media is the channel that young adults flock to, and there is evidence to prove it.

Social media usage 2018 infographic

[Infographic data source: Pew Research Center]

According to the Pew Research Center, the reach of selected social media networks is consistently a greater percentage for younger adults aged 18 – 29 across each network. 88% of young adults aged 18-29 years old use at least one social media platform, with Facebook being the most popular site used by the same age group. All of the talk is true: younger adults are using social media more than any other generation, meaning that in order to reach them, you must go to where they are. By utilizing social media, your organization will reach younger generations more effectively than using any other marketing channel.

Okay, so now you know that social media is the channel to use. But how do you use it?

Here are a few ways to use social media to effectively communicate with young adults:

  • Share your cause’s story! Explain how young adults can get involved.
    • Create videos - they are powerful tools that can elicit emotional responses from people, especially young adults who care about your cause.
  • Give your followers items they will want to share and forward to their friends.
    • Photos
    • Videos
    • Related article links and blog posts
    • Interesting facts
  • Use multiple channels to communicate, not just one.
    • Some people are active on all social media channels, while some are active on just a few. Maintaining your presence on multiple channels will allow you to reach more young adults and gain a wider audience.
  • Post consistently! Maintain an active presence on all of your accounts.
    • Posting consistent content shows that you are enthusiastic and committed to your organization’s cause. You want to share information that is relevant to your organization and maintain your relationships with your online supporters.
    • According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of users frequent social media sites daily rather than weekly or less often. For example, 73% of active social media users visit Facebook daily. Posting consistently will keep your audience engaged, especially young adults. 
  • Emphasize online donations
    • Utilizing tools such as Facebook Causes or adding a donate button to your Facebook page makes it easy for supporters to contribute to your cause.

 2.    Establish a junior board of directors

Young adults want to be involved, and not just by donating money or “sharing” posts on Facebook. According to Nonprofit World, in order to attract young adults, mission-driven organizations must have young people at the table where real decisions are being made – show them what it is you do day-to-day, show them the impact you are making. By giving young people a voice, you are showing that they, too, can make an impact.

Establishing a junior board of directors or a group specifically dedicated to young adults gives them their own space to learn about your organization, while at the same time allows them to have fun and share with their peers. Gaining responsibilities and the autonomy to make decisions allows young adults feel like they are making a difference and build their professional skillsets. Cultivating these types of relationships with young supporters will bring them closer to your cause, which will increase their loyalty and strengthen their future support.

3.     Host events targeting young adults

In order to attract young adults, hosting events is key. Young adults are social beings: they are interested in activities where they can socialize with their friends and peers. As a nonprofit, there are multiple ways that your organization can plan a successful event geared toward young supporters. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Young adults as fundraisers – due to heavy social media usage, young adults are able to stretch their networks and engage with their community to promote your event and cause.
  • Let young adults take responsibility – for some aspects of events, give young adults tasks to help them feel more connected to your cause. Allow them to take ownership, making it more important to them personally.
  • Make the event interactive –excitement and motivation are key for this age group.
  • Incentivize attendance – who doesn’t love free food and give-a-ways? Free “anything” is sure to attract the attention of young adults. Most young adults are still in college or paying off loans, therefore some extrinsic motivation can go a long way. Incentives after making a small donation can also be enough to get young adults to donate a few dollars to your cause.
  • Keep it visually interesting – more and more, young adults are photographing their experiences to share with friends and family, especially on social media. By keeping content and visuals original, engaging, and aesthetically pleasing at your event, you will be sure to capture the attention and involvement of young adults.

Planning and hosting an event targeting young adults will create positive word-of-mouth about your organization in the community and increase your organization’s reputation as a dynamic changemaker. Young adults will view your mission and cause at a deeper level and will be more inclined to be a loyal supporter in the future.


Establishing and maintaining relationships with young supporters now will advance your mission-driven organization through increased diversity of supporters and benefit your organization for years to come. Developing relationships with younger people will induce feelings of nostalgia and familiarity years later, which could bring you their generous support later on in their lives. Go out, meet the young people who want to support your cause, and build those relationships with them now to meet your goals and spread your cause for tomorrow!


How to Attract More Young People to Volunteer at Your Nonprofit, (Forbes) 

How to Engage the Next Generation of Donors Now, (Nonprofit World) 

Young Donors are Your Future: Are you doing enough to attract them?, (MCM, LLP)

Should Your Nonprofit Host a Fundraising Event or a Party?, (Nonprofit Marketing Guide)

Social Media Fact Sheet, (Pew Research Center) 

7 Things You Must Do to Acquire and Retain Younger Donors, (Salsa Labs, Inc.)


Alexandra Touloukian is a senior at the University of Vermont studying Marketing and Business Analytics. Originally from California, she hopes to return to pursue a career in marketing.  

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The Change Conversations blog is where changemakers find inspiration and insights on the power of mission-driven communication to create the change you want to see.


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