Many foundations and organizations collect the majority of their general public donations from a fairly specific target audience. In fact, it is estimated that in Canada 74% of the funds are donated by donors aged 50 and over[1]. However, the younger generations (18-35 years old) are ready to do their part and represent an audience worth targeting, as they will take over from the present generations of donors.

A snapshot of the young generations

Millennials or generation Y

Aged 18 to 35, represent 24% of the Canadian population

Generation Z

Aged 20 years and younger


  • Constantly connected, technology is an integral part of their lives
  • Seeking instant gratification (e. G. "i like" or followers on social media) and experiences to live and share
  • are facing an infinite number of possibilities (jobs available, unlimited information available in a single click, even finding love now goes through the web!)
  • they want to know how their contribution will make a concrete difference to the cause
  • not very loyal to a cause or brand, unless they are totally convinced
  • values: simplicity, efficiency, rapidity, avant-gardism[2]


Generations who want to get involved

According to a Rideau Hall Foundation report, the motivations of young people are well present: compassion for people in need, personal commitment to a cause and a willingness to contribute to the community. However, this generation is more rarely solicited, is not reached effectively (by the appropriate means) and has no idea to whom and where to donate.

In addition, although older donors often give more, they will tend to decrease over time, requiring a constant update of your database. These donors are also hyper-solicited and their capacity to donate is not unlimited. With age, the decrease in income, they may also have to stop donating. We only need to look at a demographic curve to measure the importance of database rejuvenation.


Here are some strategies to implement in order to better reach this category of under-solicited donors.

Organize events

In recent years, sports events have become popular as a way to bring together groups of young people who want to get involved in a more concrete manner than by simply donating or writing a cheque. Running, walking, challenging, all these activities are good ways to encourage young people to get involved and donate. Furthermore, thanks to the peer-to-peer integrated into these events, the participant brings together friends, family and colleagues, which adds even more notoriety and donations to your cause.

Younger generations are looking for ways to express their involvement with others, which are occasions they can share on social networks or which are related to their values (see box above).

Use social media

A place where the younger generations are constantly present. Depending on their age, the platforms most used by them are Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram (see the computer graphics on this subject).

You should therefore be present and active on at least one of these platforms for a better chance of reaching the 18-35 age group. Videos and photos attract more attention than mere statuses or links without visuals.

Provide them with content they can comment and share.

Have an even greater presence on the web

In 2019, not only must we have a website, but we also need to make sure that it is effective and up to date. It is your first chance to make an impression and one of the main points of contact for your potential donors, especially for the younger generations.

  • Is your online donation tool functional?
  • Are your brand image and website design attractive and modern?
  • Is the browsing simple and functional (adaptive design, user-friendly menus, quick page loading, information available in a few clicks)?

You should consider these points in an effort to attract a younger audience.

Embrace innovation: dare to do things differently!

Forget about golf tournaments and lobster dinners, young people want originality, challenge and above all, to experience something new. The Bal Salé, organized by the Jeune Société de Sherbrooke, is a good example. This event, whose profits go to youth causes, features an original theme that varies each year and it successfully brings together several young professionals. These young people enjoy a unique festive evening, where they have the opportunity to dress up and spend memorable moments with their friends and colleagues. The event raised $150,000 over the past 5 years.

Dare to create concrete, different and original ideas and fundraising campaigns that are emotional, humorous and can easily be shared on the web and social media.

Reaching out to young philanthropists

Young philanthropist groups are increasingly emerging, particularly in the cultural community. By creating such groups, foundations create opportunities for young people to get involved and opportunities for social networking, two opportunities that many young professionals seek when they begin their career. They feel comfortable being around people who are like them and who share their vision. Their views can refresh your perspective and bring you innovative ideas. Their involvement will also facilitate your approach with the younger generations.

Organize a contest

Contests are a good way to attract the attention of students and young professionals. Inviting them to submit a video, project or idea will give you a high visibility among them and allow you to make your cause known to them.

Contests are also a good way to make noise on social media and generate media interest. However, you must be careful not to abuse it, as it can become cumbersome for your subscribers!

Adapt your messages

Finally, to address young people effectively, your messages must be adapted. Forget the long annual reports and formal solicitation letters and opt for a light, humorous (if your cause is right for it), catchy and dynamic tone. You must be straight to the point, be transparent and concretely demonstrate in a few sentences why they should get involved, what their involvement will accomplish and what it will bring them in return. Keep in mind the values mentioned at the beginning of the article. Give them testimonials that support your point. The use of familiar language can be used with the younger ones (under 25 years of age) to create a sense of closeness, but the use of formal language is a priority if you want to be taken more seriously.

Favour quality and varied interactions, because an overly aggressive approach to solicitation will completely cool them down!

Are young donors part of your fundraising efforts?

Apply these few tips or contact our team to learn more, so they can be given a more important place in your database!




CAUSES & CO. « Le donateur traditionnel est-il mort »,
HUFFINGTON POST. « Les organismes caritatifs puisent dans un bassin de donateurs vieillissants »,
INSTITUT MALLET. « Renforcer la culture philanthropique chez les jeunes », « Les détaillants devront s’adapter aux jeunes! »,
LE DEVOIR. « L’action doit accompagner le don ».

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