19 Apr 2023 / in UK Blog / by Alex Alsworth

For PR and comms teams working for, or with, charities, it’s vitally important to have an understanding of audience. Who are you trying to reach? What kind of messaging do they respond to? And which group is most likely to advocate for charities?

Our recently relaunched Charity Barometer seeks to answer those questions by putting a different audience under the spotlight in each edition. We touched on the openness of Baby Boomers to charitable causes in my article last month, and this time around the Charity Barometer is looking at Generation Z. Born between the late ‘90s and the mid-2010s, they’re the first generation to be raised in the post-web digital world, and those in the older age range are out of education and underway establishing their careers. Hyperaware of social media and conscious of causes like climate change and equality, they are a group charities keen to engage with.

But how do PR and comms teams reach them? The simple answer is to go to where they occupy most of their time. According to GWI data in the latest Cision Charity Barometer, Gen Z are heavy consumers, taking in more overall media than any other generation surveyed. Their channel of choice is social media, where they spend 77 minutes more than the average person. They watch much less linear and broadcast TV than other audience cohorts – and our GWI data has them 7% more likely than the average person to listen to no radio at all.

Content Discovery for Gen Z

Across the third sector, one of the major stories dominating the news over recent times has been the awful earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria. Humanitarian efforts were front and centre of the national news agenda as the world looked for support and certainty. The news and social media conversation across the third sector leant heavily towards this topic, which made up 15% of all coverage, while humanitarian organisations dominated the rankings.

Charities mobilised across social media, the primary destination for Gen Z-ers, to highlight the need for support in the aftermath of the chaos. The below chart, covering social media volume in February, shows two peaks related to coverage of the Turkey-Syria earthquake: the first from a post by Save the Children encouraging donations to the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee); the second a Reuters tweet showcasing UNICEF’s work helping children affected by the earthquakes. As a result of the latter, UNICEF dominated social media mentions throughout February, highlighting to importance of both timely responses and messaging.

Cision Charity Barometer

Social media volume for UK charities in February 2023

Though Gen Z are spending more and more time on social platforms, our GWI data actually shows the most common way for them to discover specific brands is via search engines. However (and unsurprisingly), compared to other audience cohorts they over-index heavily on discovery through social media, celebrity endorsement, blogs and vlogs. Organisations that reach out via social and quick-form content, utilising spokespeople, may be more successful at getting attention.

One such example from our recent Charity Barometer is Countdown presenter Susie Dent’s 'My Sighted Guide' initiative with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, comprising a series of short video interviews including BBC Radio 5 Live.

What Gen Z Wants From Brands

What’s the most important brand expectation from Generation Z? Topping the list in our GWI data is being eco-friendly, with 40% of those surveyed wanting to see it. They also voiced expectations about organisations being bold and innovative, meaning charities that can demonstrate those ideals stand a good change of securing coverage and winning over the Gen Z audience.

On the theme of recent green coverage in the media, The Big Issue’s Valentine’s Day feature around sustainable gifts included a suggestion for planting a tree with heritage conservation charity the National Trust. Other charities were linked with environmental messages even if it wasn’t their primary goal. For instance, BBC News ran a feature on Oxfam mentioning how buying second hand, or “pre-loved”, clothes is “better for the environment” than shopping on the high street.

The above hopefully gives you some idea of how brands can successfully reach Gen Z, but it’s just scratching the surface of our Cision Charity Barometer. Each month we utilise in-depth data, visuals and expert insight to give you a complete story for the sector (and put a new key audience under the spotlight). If you’re in, or work with, the third sector and would like to get the report, reach out and speak to one of our experts today.

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About Alex Alsworth

Alex Alsworth is the UK Insights Sector Lead for Government, Not for Profit and Finance, with five years of earned media analysis experience with Cision and a further seven of market research account management.

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