How to Engage Next Gen in Philanthropy


At a time when many nonprofit organizations are faced with an aging donor base and are trying to cultivate new support, increasing attention is turning to an emergent group of new leaders and philanthropists: millennials and Generation Z.

Born between 1997 and 2016, Generation Z (Gen Z) is considered the largest and most disruptive generation to date, accounting for one-third of the entire population.1 Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are in their prime years, making up over half of the current workforce.2 Both Gen z and millennials have impact on everything from politics to the economy, and combined they make up more than half of the U.S. population.3 The influence of these generations is anticipated to grow exponentially as the U.S. undergoes the "Great Wealth Transfer" that is expected to transfer an estimated $72.6 trillion to the next generation.4 Understanding and engaging these future leaders is essential for all organizations focused on their sustainability and growth.

  • Gen Z's purchasing power is projected to represent $33 trillion in income by 2030, surpassing millennial income by 20315
  • According to the 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy, 79% of millennials and younger gave to charitable organizations in 2022
  • Millennials and Gen Z were the most likely to have provided monetary assistance to someone during the pandemic6
  • 55% of donors ages 38 and younger say they are more focused on the issues or causes they consider most important than on organizations (34%)7

Millennials and Gen Z tend to be tech-savvy and entrepreneurial, and they frequently look to engage with nonprofits on multiple levels, preferring to use their unique skill sets as well as their money. Despite being at different stages of their personal and professional lives and perhaps not at the peak of their earning potential, both generations have a desire to make an impact so it is important that organizations find ways to engage them. It is increasingly important for nonprofits to determine clear strategies for leveraging both in-kind and monetary contributions through social media outreach, peer networking events, e-newsletters and face-to-face engagement.

The next generation focuses more on their ability to make a wider impact on societal issues, whereas previous generations focus more on the work being done by specific organizations. They believe in the power of activism and that together their voices can bring about real change. By developing programming that integrates the next generation into the mission of the organization while also providing leadership opportunities, nonprofits offer millennials and Gen Z the opportunity to gain a holistic perspective of organizational operations, including development strategies, programming and governance procedures. If done with intention, these engagements can translate to meaningful, long-term involvement —to the benefit of both nonprofits and their next generation leaders.

What inspires the next generation to get involved?




To have a positive impact

To forge meaningful relationships

To enhance and leverage their expertise

Source: Bank of America Private Bank Philanthropic Solutions

In thinking about program and leadership engagement opportunities for millennials and Gen Z, nonprofits should consider tailoring their approach to fit the key motivations of the next generation. Tips for engagement include:5

Think small

The next generation generally prefers to ease into relationships with organizations before fully committing to a cause, so organizations should consider creating opportunities to pull them into their programming early on in ways that may not require full-fledged commitment. The initial engagement—such as volunteering at a specific event or program, participating in a single fundraising initiative, or attending a board recruitment event—should offer millennials and Gen Z the ability to better understand the mission, organizational structure and desired impact of the nonprofit.

Make space

Organizations should consider examining their leadership structure to find ways to make room on their boards, committees and volunteer programs for the rising generation to have the ability to actively participate in a manner that feels meaningful to them. The next generation feels a personal sense of social responsibility that helps them to be engaged with an organization on many levels. To harness this strength, nonprofits should consider involving millennials and Gen Z in the development and implementation of concrete initiatives through appropriate committees and leadership positions. While all donors should be treated with high levels of attention from staff, development professionals should thoughtfully work to engage these generations in the institution prior to making any ask. For this group, feeling a sense of ownership can lead to an ongoing, fruitful relationship. Unlike previous generations, the engagement of these younger generations is not linear and organizations need to create multiple ways in which individuals can learn, build trust and engage.

Share results

Perhaps most importantly, organizations can to help millennials and Gen Z understand the tangible impact of the investment of their time, money, and knowledge. A key differentiator between these generations and their predecessors is an emphasis on measured impact; the next generation tend to look for full transparency into how their philanthropic investment is moving the needle for an organization, pushing organizations to show clear metrics that resonate in order to keep them highly engaged.

Get social

Many millennials tend to be deeply connected to the world and their peers through social media vehicles and Gen Z has never lived in a world without internet or smart phones. Their social media presence offers nonprofits not only unique and valuable insight into giving patterns and social interest areas, but also the opportunity to reach and influence this group. Organizations should consider approaching their social media with the same methodical intent as they would a development strategy. Investing in social media engagement like other aspects of their development should not be without personalization; organizations need to consider the platforms the next generation are most active on, the content they are most attracted to and what stories will resonate with them.

How can we help

We work closely with our nonprofit clients to offer strategic support and guidance in how to engage next gen leaders as thoughtful and impactful donors, supportive and educated board and committee members, and overall strong advocates for the organization through our extensive experience advising nonprofit clients.

We know the challenges our nonprofit clients face when working to meaningfully engage with millennials and Gen Z and can work with your organization to determine strategies and solutions for reaching this demographic as donors, volunteers, advocates and leaders.

A private wealth advisor can help you get started.

Our advisors can help you follow your passions, build a legacy and have a positive impact on others.

Custom consulting services are available to clients with managed accounts of $10 million or more on the fiduciary platform.

BofA Global Research, OK Zoomer: Gen Z Primer. December 2020

Pew Research Center. Dimock, Michael. (Latest data available.)

4 U.S. High-Net-Worth and Ultra-High-Net-Worth Markets 2021.

BofA Global Research, OK Zoomer: Gen Z Primer. December 2020

BofA Global Research, OK Zoomer: Gen Z Primer. December 2020

The 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Affluent Households


The 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Affluent Households

Advancement Resources. (2015). Generational Differences in Giving: Engaging Millennials. Retrieved from

Goldseker, Sharna & Moody, Michael. (2013) Young Wealthy Donors Bring Taste for Risk, Hands-On Involvement to Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved from

Sources and external websites are provided for educational purposes only. Inclusion here does not imply Bank of America Private Bank’s endorsement of any content or content providers.

The information and views contained in this publication are for informational purposes only and do not provide investment advice or take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs. They are not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security, financial instrument or strategy. Any opinions expressed herein are given in good faith, are subject to change without notice and are only correct as of the stated date of their issue.

Institutional Investments & Philanthropic Solutions (also referred to as “Philanthropic Solutions” or “II&PS”) is part of Bank of America Private Bank, a division of Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”). Trust, fiduciary, and investment management services are provided by wholly owned banking affiliates of BofA Corp., including Bank of America, N.A. and its agents. Brokerage services may be performed by wholly owned brokerage affiliates of BofA Corp., including Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as “MLPF&S” or “Merrill”). MLPF&S makes available certain investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by companies that are affiliates of BofA Corp. MLPF&S is a registered brokerdealer, registered investment adviser, Member SIPC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.

Certain Bank of America Private Bank associates are registered representatives with MLPF&S and may assist you with investment products and services provided through MLPF&S and other nonbank investment affiliates.