since the crib. Ms. Kanter calls them the “Qwerty
Kids” for their penchant for texting.
Observers of the generation say that growing
up with Google at their fingertips has engendered
self-reliance and lessened a dependence on parents, other adults, or individual institutions for
information and guidance.
“With their ready access to information, they
can form their own opinions,” says Jamie Gut-
fruend, chief marketing officer at Deep Focus.
“This means when it comes to philanthropy, kids
of this generation want brands and institutions to
talk to them directly. They want a seat at the table
as independent thinkers with their own perspec-
tives. They are more sophisticated in that way
This also means organizational transparency
has never been more important.
“On a charity’s website, it needs to be very
easy to find out what their financials are, what
their impact is, what a contribution will do,” says
writer Susan Price, author of Generous Genes:
Raising Caring Kids in a Digital Age and former
vice president of the National Center for Family
“This is what nonprofits have to do to appeal to
this younger generation. They want things to be
concrete regarding the difference their contribu-
tion is going to make.”
Georgia Brothers, 11, who started the charity
Change for Cancer t wo years ago in suburban
Pittsburgh, says nonprofit organizations should
“simply show my generation the effects of giving.”
Her own project — inspired by her grandfather,
who died of cancer before she was born, and a
classmate with the disease who lost her hair to
chemotherapy — is focused on real-world impact.
Georgia has raised more than $5,000 online and
through youth-oriented charitable events, using
the money to help local cancer patients and their
families pay bills related to their care.
Her greatest accomplishment, she says, has
been directly helping her inspirational classmate.
“Their family vehicle broke down, which was the
vehicle the family used to get her to and from her
treatments,” Georgia says. “I was able to pay for
the car repairs out of the money that was fund-
Young Supporters on the Loose
While the kids of Gen Z want firm explanations
of how their giving will help a cause, they also
want to work with charities that offer their support
with a light touch and give supporters flexibility in
how they can help raise money, experts say.
It’s a lesson that Unicef USA, which for some 60
years has leaned on children to help it raise money, has taken to heart.
“The biggest change I’ve seen in the past eight
years at Unicef in terms of youth engagement is
that we are letting them loose more,” says Caryl
Stern, the charity’s president. “We are trying to
give them enough information about what’s going
on around the world and enough opportunities to
motivate them to engage with us. But we’re also
leaving space for them to tell us how they want to
The iconic orange Unicef box children have
long used to collect coins for the group on Hal-
loween remains part of the charity’s fundraising.
However, Ms. Stern adds, “we are no longer just
saying, ‘Here’s the box, now go door to door with
Instead, she says, Unicef has pointed young
supporters to other ways to attract donations: “You
can trick-or-treat virtually now, raising money on-
line. We also have tried to take advantage of young
people’s willingness to use platforms like Crowd-
rise and place some of our projects on them.”
The charity has also long encouraged the cre-
ation of Unicef clubs at high schools and colleges
to raise awareness and support for child-poverty
issues and advised how those clubs should be
Ms. Stern, however, says she was recently contacted by a high-school student who had formed
his own self-styled antipoverty organization at
his school. “And we said, ‘Great. Here are all our
materials, but you don’t have to fit our mold,” she
says. “Our thinking now is, How do we adapt us to
ImpACT on Stage
HOW HE DESCRIBES
HIS 3 GREATES T
Acceptance of diversity
Lack of American
Jacob Gardenswartz (second from right)
first brought an anti-bullying message to the
stage through a volunteer theatrical troupe
he started in high school. His efforts won
him a $36,000 Tikkun Olam Award last year
from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, for
teenagers helping to “repair the world” (as
“tikkun olam” means in Hebrew).
The San Diego youth then used the money
to further his cause, starting his own charity
to continue such theatrical efforts.
“I really loved the idea of using live theater
to facilitate meaningful discussions about im-
portant issues. However, I wasn’t aware of
any existing nonprofit that was working to do
that,” says Mr. Gardenswartz, now a fresh-
man at the University of Pennsylvania.
The charity brings its original theatrical
pieces to schools, businesses, and community centers. The works confront bullying,
sexual violence, and substance abuse.
“My generation grew up with the idea
that all the answers to every one of life’s
questions are just a Google search away,
and I think that has led to an overwhelming
optimism and belief that we can change the
world,” Mr. Gardenswartz says. “We are the
generation to correct the mistakes of years
past, and we have the passion and ingenuity
to do so.”
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