Note from Beth: Next week, I’ll be keynoting the “Future of Social Media Conference” in London hosted by Social Misfits in partnership with Facebook, JustGiving, the Hospital Club Foundation, and the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. I’ll be talking about the next generation of donors and how they use social media, mobile, and other technology to raise money for causes they care about. This guest post is part of many recent posts you have read from my about Generation Z.
How Gen Z Donors Harness the Power of Online Giving – Guest Post By Emily Hawkins, VP of Communications, Crowdrise
Generation Z, the heirs to the digital empire built by Generation X and expanded by Millennials, is made up of people who don’t just spend time online—they live there. More than any generation before, kids in “Gen Z” use online technology to experience, understand, and change their world.
And despite their youth (its oldest members are only now leaving their teens), kids in Generation Z are regularly rocking social media for social good. Well-informed, constantly connected, and more tech-confident than your aunt Jan, they’re taking on the world’s problems, one online fundraiser at a time.
Small Givers, Big Impact
Gen Z kids have taken Mahatma Gandhi’s instruction to “be the change they wish to see in the world” to heart. They’re shaking up convention and putting a post-millennial twist on how we do business, connect with others, and create conversations.
Case in point: In 2014, Noah Wong visited Cambodia and India and discovered kids his own age (and younger) were growing up in prisons. Shocked and angry, Noah opted to turn his eleventh birthday into an online fundraising campaign to raise $11,000 for imprisoned kids around the world.
Having met his goal, he’s doing it again for his twelfth birthday. “There’s only so much a 12-year-old kid can do,” Noah says in his campaign story. “That’s why I need help from you!”
Noah’s not alone, either. Every day, kids around the world are tapping into their social media spheres, tweeting and posting and Vining to attract eyeballs and dollars to the causes they care about. They’re also pounding the pavement to bring food, clothing, cash, shelter, medicine, and lots of attention to those that need them the most.
With one foot in the virtual realm and one in “meatspace,” they’re starting charity-driven businesses, making serious contributions to the developing world, and changing lives fast.
Helping Your Teen Give Back
If you’re raising a Gen Z kid, you’re already familiar with their seemingly innate grasp of technological platforms, from Twitter to Twitch. But no matter how strong their social media mastery is, kids are, well, kids, and they need help and guidance from their parents, teachers, and mentors as they navigate the pathways of the Internet in order to avoid its sketchier neighborhoods.
So if your child wants to use their social network to raise money for a good cause, getting involved will help you keep them (and their personal information) safe from would-be scam artists and predators. It’ll also give you a golden opportunity to connect with them, learn more about their passions, and reinforce the importance of helping others in need.
Getting your kids involved in giving starts with understanding why, what, and how we give. In a society driven by conspicuous consumption and “the next big thing,” it can be easy to forget how many people need help just to survive from day to day.
Programs such as Giving Tuesday help kids learn the importance of altruism from an early age, and give them tips on how to use their tech savvy and affection for connections to make significant contributions to the lives of others.
Created as a kind of antidote to the crazy excesses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Giving Tuesday program offers a wide range of assistance for parents, teachers, and individuals who are looking to help others. They even offer a comprehensive, nine-week curriculum on philanthropy called “Guide to Giving” that helps kids learn about giving back in a number of ways—including the creation of their own Giving Tuesday project.
If your child is excited about raising money online for a worthy cause (And why wouldn’t they be? It’s awesome) it’s so easy to help make their campaign a successful one in three key ways:
- Help them research and focus their project. Make sure you’re involved from the beginning to guide them as they establish the parameters and goals of their project. “I want to feed all the hungry children from here to the frosty, wind-swept steppes of distant Mongolia” is a worthy goal, but “I want to raise $5,000 to help feed the kids at the local homeless shelter” is a more realistic (and achievable) one.
- Help them set up and manage their campaign. Keep your child involved in the set-up process, including any rewards for donors, and walk them through the process of how money is collected and ultimately distributed. If they’re too young to handle their own social media accounts independently, sit down to write social updates, send thank-yous, and answer questions together.
- Help them promote their campaign. Generation Z kids often have extensive online networks, but for safety and convenience, you can help them set up accounts specifically dedicated to their cause. This will not only keep the conversation focused on their fundraising and social sharing efforts, but provide a layer of protection for your child from anyone who might misuse their personal contact or other information.
If you and your kids are looking to be more “hands on” with your philanthropy, consider pairing your online campaign with some local volunteering, a partnership with your school or religious organization, or even something as simple as a bake sale. They’ll get more local involvement, tons of new content to share with their online campaign audience, and probably some pretty good cookies if they go for that bake sale option.
Bringing these efforts together with your online campaign can help your kids see how easy it can be to break free of their own little myopic boxes and help others, in person as well as onscreen.
Are you keeping up with your tween-age titan of tech? Whether through online fundraisers, volunteering, or even starting a small business of their own, your Gen Z kid can be a force for positive change.
By working closely with them to educate them about philanthropy, develop their social networks, and provide both guidance and protection, you can help make sure your child is making giving back an important part of their life, online and off.
Emily Hawkins is the VP of Communications and Partnerships and Stuff Like That at CrowdRise. Sometimes she sends emails that contain only tongue twisters, but she spends most of her time working with amazing corporations, nonprofits and individuals making CrowdRise the best place to fundraise for social good on the Internet. She lives in Brooklyn and has a make-believe mutt named Barney.