Faith-Based Nonprofits: Are You Ready for the Next Generation?

Faith-Based Nonprofits: Are You Ready for the Next Generation?

It’s a tale as old as time. Generations get older and in their place comes a new wave of young people that seem impossibly different. For faith-based nonprofits to keep up with this new generation, a sort of “facelift” is often needed. These organizations may need to look differently, speak differently, and overall upgrade their marketing communications to maintain relevance.

Revamping your organization for a younger audience is an effort that will be challenging, but never impossible. Here’s all you need to know about the next generation, from who they are to how to speak their language.

Getting To Know Your Audience

A conversation about the next generation would be incomplete without talking about Millennials and Gen Z. For faith-based nonprofits, the critical first step to revamping your marketing communications will be to understand these generations’ attitudes towards, well, faith and nonprofit work.

As the older of the two generations, Millennials have been driving the growth of the religiously unaffiliated for years now. A study found that 39% of Millennials identified as such, making it the generation’s single largest “religious” group. Gen Z seems to be following in their predecessors’ footsteps, with remarkably similar religious affiliation levels and behavior.

millennials and gen z audiences for non profits

This isn’t necessarily bad news for faith-based nonprofits. While younger generations may not identify as religious as much as their elders, this doesn’t mean they’re against organizations with religious affiliations. Caring more about what the organization does, they’re largely neutral to or supportive of faith-based nonprofits.

“Causes over institutions” is the ruling attitude among Millennials, with Gen Zers taking it a step further by putting the spotlight on larger global issues like climate change and poverty. Both cohorts are highly motivated to make an impact and are involved supporters, demanding transparency, accountability, and action from the organizations they back.

The big takeaway here? You won’t need to convince the younger generation to care. They’re more than willing to support your organization — that is, if they know about it. The challenge will be getting them to pay attention to you, and that starts with knowing where to find them.

Getting Social: Where to Reach the Next Generation

Millennials either grew up online or were young enough to easily embrace it and Gen Z was directly born into the internet age. Being online comes most naturally to them. It’s where they spend most of their time, whether it’s through socially connecting or for entertainment.

That digital experience spills over to how they like to communicate. Most Millennials and Gen Zers are comfortable with emails and online interactions, but good luck getting them to open an unsolicited letter or pick up a call from an unknown number.

When it comes to marketing communications then, a strong online presence is a must-have. A digital-first approach ensures that you’re seen by the younger demographic and that you’re reaching them the way they prefer.

Part of this means having a solid website that’s optimized to their standards. Your website will likely be the first place they visit to get more information, so nail that first impression with a site that has a seamless UX both on the desktop and mobile. Doing so can even have a direct effect on donations! One study on Millennials found that:

  • 51% gave through an organization’s website
  • 37% used a smartphone to give
  • 36% were motivated to give by something they saw on an organization’s website

Naturally, we can’t also forget about social media. From Facebook and Instagram to YouTube and TikTok, being present on these platforms is essential to connect with the next generations. Remember, though, that each social network is unique. They’re like mini universes with different users and content styles that can evolve in the blink of an eye. Case in point, remember when Facebook was dominated by young teens and college students?

With so many platforms out there, knowing how to navigate each one can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. This article here breaks down how to build a winning social media strategy with all the right ingredients. (Hint: it definitely doesn’t involve posting the same content on every platform.)

You can also have an experienced marketing agency like ours help you out with your social media marketing, whether you want us to fully take the reins or just need a team of experts to bounce ideas off of.  

Keeping It Real: How to Connect with the Younger Audience

Of course, it’s not enough to be in the same spaces that your audience enjoys. To get this next generation onboard, you also want to actively communicate and engage with them. Put simply, you need to speak their language.

Interestingly, one of the biggest elements of how this latest generation communicates — particularly in conversations about faith — has nothing to do with talking at all. It’s about listening.

connecting millennials and gen z audiences to nonprofits

When recently surveyed, teens expressed skepticism about evangelism, preferring instead to have open conversations that focus on listening and learning from others. At the same time, they don’t like being talked at and are likely to reject messaging that is based on provoking pity or guilt.

Called “hyper-considerate conversation partners,” these young adults expect open and honest dialogue. For faith-based nonprofits, this means that being real and transparent is essential. Craving authenticity, the younger generation is more moved by raw passion and real results than fantastical personas or campaigns.

Speaking Their Language

To reach the next generation, you’ve got to be fluent in the language of authenticity. This starts with understanding your organization and establishing a strong brand identity. Only by knowing yourself can you be true to who you are in your communications.

With that sense of authenticity in mind, keep things concise and to the point with your messaging. Online content moves quickly and the younger generations’ attention spans are getting shorter. Each interaction should provide value.

Some essential strategies could include:

  • Spreading awareness by sharing digestible information. Bonus points if it’s in a format that can also be easily reshared by your supporters!
  • Inviting them to take action with a clear CTA. Accountability is important here. Don’t ask them for something that your own organization and members won’t do.
  • Be upfront about the results of your organization’s efforts. Gen Z, in particular, is emerging as very cautious supporters. They care the most about impact and won’t hesitate to vocalize their concerns. Transparency will always be the best policy.

Building Community

Despite being digital natives, the younger generation isn’t against offline experiences. In fact, they crave connection, with 83% of Gen Zers having a newfound appreciation for in-person interactions as a result of the pandemic.

Reported to be the loneliest generation, today’s young people are in search of belonging and community. Faith-based nonprofits are in a good position to provide that and can capture the attention of the next generation through messaging and programs that emphasize invitation, acceptance, and community. Online engagement can then lead to offline support and participation.

targeting younger audiences for nonprofits

Depending on the organization, this may require a few tweaks to its visual content strategy or it could call for a total rebrand. This can be hard to identify when you’re in the thick of it, so if you’re ever in need of a fresh set of eyes, we’re more than happy to help.

Future-Proofing Your Nonprofit With PH3

Connecting to the next generation should be a priority for any faith-based nonprofit hoping to extend their good works into the future. But balancing brand authenticity with modern upgrades to your marketing efforts can be an overwhelming process.

We here at PH3 know this, which is why we’ve dedicated ourselves to being the one-stop shop for organizations like yours. With our finger on the pulse of generational changes and a diverse menu of creative services, we’re the best agency to grow your nonprofit with.

Ready to make a difference? We know we are. Send us a message now to get started.