Next Up – Generation Z!!

Let’s see we had The Greatest Generation, The Silent Generation, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, The Millennials (aka Gen Y) so of course our up and coming generation are Gen Z.1

I am a Baby Boomer myself, my son is a Millennial and my young nieces and nephews are all Gen Z. I’m guessing they don’t know that yet and likely don’t care. You however Mr. or Ms. Small Business Owner or Executive Director of a Nonprofit should definitely care about the up and coming generation.

For now, you are safe focusing on Millennials as the largest group of consumers and donors, but just as the Millennials caught many of us by surprise when they surpassed the baby boomers (believe me we never thought they’d pass us up!) it might behoove us all to be prepared for these young whippersnappers!

First a little background – Gen Z youth were born in and after 1998, right now the oldest of them are about to enter college. Gen Z is expected to reach 2.6 billion individuals with 85 million here in the US; almost one-quarter (24.7%) of the population.

Most were raised by Gen Xers (and I guess a few of us late parenting Baby Boomers) and early research says they are cautious spenders, bargain shoppers and more likely to save then spend—which really isn’t great news, right?

It is certainly understandable that they are a more cautious group. They grew up experiencing global political upheaval and unrest, climate change, school violence and terrorism. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are rampant among Gen Z and sadly so is self-harm and suicide

They worry about terrorism, believe that climate change is our biggest challenge and feel that school violence, not social media has the biggest impact on them

There is plenty of good news too, for Gen Z corporate social responsibility and giving back to their communities is very important. They register their support or lack of it, but the jobs they pursue, the products and services they buy and support, and with their time and donations.

And social media is influential in these decisions, over 50% of them donated due to message or image on social media. YouTube Facebook and Instagram take up a large portion of the 3,5 hours they are on average online.

Gen Z are the first true digital natives, most cannot even remember a time before the internet or social media. Today the average age for getting your first smart phone is approximately ten and a half! But they did wait a year later to get their first social media account! This may be what accounts for their 8-secnd attention span!

So, what is a smart executive whether in the non- or for- profit arena? First recognize these young folks are coming and will be serious, cautious consumers of goods and service. It has never been more important to align cause with commerce to gain customer loyalty and attract the best staff. And without doubt the way to engage them is via social media – but you may only have 8 seconds to get their attention so make sure your message is clear, concise and actionable!

Thanks for reading, what do you think about Gen Z and how they will impact businesses and charities? I’d love to hear your thoughts – comment below or email me directly at

Author Leslie Riehm is the VP of Corporate Communications for Digital Donations, Inc.®a leading provider of alternative fundraising solutions joining cause and commerce to benefit the communities where we work and live.

1 Table courtesy of

Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 and later

Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995

Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976

Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964

Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before

#generationz #genz

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