Behavioural ScienceJamie Belnikoff

How can my charity attract younger audiences?

With Volunteers' Week fast approaching (1 - 7 June), it's an ideal time for charities to think about how they work with their volunteers.  On 5 June, Volunteers' Week will focus on young volunteers and we've dedicated this post to understanding how charities can better attract and engage younger people.  This is the second in a short series of blogs from Jamie Belnikoff, Associate Director at 2CV and is based on his personal experience of running an international development charity, Onechild Ghana.    

How can my charity attract younger audiences?

Previous work by 2CV (Young People and Happiness; Introducing Gen Z) identified that today's young people are very socially conscious who genuinely believe they can change the world.  They really care about making a difference!  The challenge however, is that younger people are becoming more discerning in terms of who they support and charities can't assume that what's worked in the past will keep working.  It's never been more important to truly understand the world through their eyes.

So what can charities do to attract and engage younger audiences?  Drawing on my experiences of running Onechild Ghana over the last 10+ years, I've identified three key learnings below:

Connect emotionally

According to the latest government statistics, there are 168 000 registered charities in England and Wales.  In such a crowded environment, it can be difficult for charities to stand out especially when other charities have similar-sounding causes.  The key is to connect emotionally, showing potential supporters why your charity does what it does and how it truly makes a difference.   It's a strategy that takes time but it pays to be consistent - we know it works!

About 5 years ago we changed our focus to prioritise always telling people why we do what we do.   We've found this to be much more impactful than simply saying what we do - it has helped supporters and potential supporters connect with us on a much deeper level. We've seen a huge increase in the number of younger people getting involved.        

Give ownership

When a young person decides to get involved, take the time to get to know them and develop bespoke opportunities for them.   If they want to fundraise, let them come up with the ideas and then provide the support to make them a reality.  Everyone wins from this approach and what's more, the young person learns hugely valuable skills and makes a genuine difference at the same time.

Say thank you

Volunteers' Week is all about saying thank you.  However, charities shouldn't wait until Volunteers Week to say thank you - do it consistently!  It's simple, costs nothing and yet not done nearly enough.  I've heard countless stories of people who've volunteered or fundraised and yet never received a thank you.  Some were even asked why they didn't raise more money (!)

Volunteers will say they volunteer because of the cause and that they don't expect to get any recognition.  Even so, they'll 100% remember if you don't thank them.  Everyone appreciates a thank you but don't be generic.  Be specific, make it personalised and really mean it! 


Jamie Belnikoff

Associate Director

2CV London