#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week three | guest post: gen Y besties

Celebrity endorsements (especially during the holiday season) are everywhere and many are directed at Gen Y audiences. But, this just in: your bestie is actually the new celebrity endorsement. Think about it for a second, it’s true. You have friends that influence your (positive) decisions all the time. One will tell you about an awesome place to eat; they know you can’t get enough of fusion food. The new song they love? They know it will get you dancing too. And we both know who convinced you to try out the Walking Dead, even though you said ‘you’re just not into zombies.’

Friend(ly) endorsements are why websites like Yelp, Reddit, RedTagDeals and other consumer-driven or reviewed programs work. People seek out people, just like them, to learn the pros and cons of just about anything.

So why would it be any different in the nonprofit world? If this process works, than a nonprofit endorsement would come from your bestie, not someone who graces the red carpet. And a bestie endorsement is going to get a Gen Y talking and donating. An easy way for charities to do this is by profiling a ‘celebrity’ donor!

BUT, when we talk about profiling donors to make nonprofits seem more human and relatable… who are you profiling? Are you profiling a 42 year old bank executive mother of three? A 70 year old long time donor? A couple who made the decision to donate a cool 1 million? These probably aren’t the celebrities that are going to get Gen Ys donating to your cause.

Maybe, a profile of Suzy, a Gen Y donor who just bought one of Plan Canada’s outside the box holiday gifts is the celebrity you’re looking for. Suzy, graduated with a B.A. in history from Western University and is now working at a social enterprise downtown (um cool), is active online and is probably someone’s bestie. Suzy is going to share her celebrity profile on all forms of social media. Her friends are going to ‘like’ it. Maybe retweet it. Some of her friends may post how proud they are of Suzy on their walls.

Suzy’s friends, who trust her, may ask her about why she donated to Plan. Perhaps they will be willing to donate when Suzy’s chooses Plan as her charity of choice for her upcoming half marathon. Perhaps Suzy will stay on board as a monthly donor because she feels recognized as appreciated as a gift giver.

Is this a lot of maybe talk? Yea, it is. But maybe, treating Suzy like the philanthropic celebrity she is will work.


If you’re interested in learning more about the bestie referral world take a peek at:

  • Reddit – (reddit.com/r/Charity/) and (www.reddit.com/r/nonprofit/) Where regular celebrities share information about charities, fundraising, upcoming projects, and ideas. You may find the PR story of the century or a new way to connect with donors.

Great campaigns with Gen Ys in mind:

  • WWF used Snapchat to send photos of endangered animals to users with the caption “Don’t let this be my last selfie.”
  • Scope utilized Reddit’s Ask Me Anything forum and created a safe space for users to ask, Alex Brooker, a disabled journalist questions as part of their #endtheawkward campaign.
  • Telus campaign Shop Wildly allowed customers to choose where the telecom’s money went and it got people talking
  • Charity Water’s website has a whole page dedicated to people who have donated their birthdays.


Written by Carolyn Hawthorn


Carolyn Hawthorn- Bio PictureCarolyn Hawthorn is a young professional working at Harbourfront Centre as a Business Development Officer and sits on Ronald McDonald House Toronto’s Young Professional Committee as the Fundraising Chair. Past professional experiences have seen her at The Terry Fox Foundation and Movember Canada.

Connect with Carolyn via:
Twitter | LinkedIn

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