June 26, 2019
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These are the causes Gen Z cares about the most

The youngest generation is growing up and they care about the issues that affect them, their communities, and their future.

Gen Z are coming into their own as activists and advocates. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Move over Millennials, a new generation is here to save the world.

Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z kids are in high school, college, and the oldest of their ranks are just beginning to enter the workforce. Millennials, meanwhile, are fully established in the workforce, with the oldest millennials at age 38. (Editor’s note: we’re using the Pew Research Center’s parameters for generations here.)

While we know that when it comes to what’s important, Millennials are focused on civil rights, healthcare and employment. Members of Gen Z have a similar outlook, but their priorities tend to skew differently when it comes to the causes they care about.

Members of the generation comprise 20 percent of the U.S. population and 27 percent of the global population. Gen Z and their concerns are likely to play a greater part in the national conversation as more of them enter adulthood.

So what do the 60 million Gen Z kids care about? A lot of different things, but research shows some trends.

[ Read more: What are the causes Millennials care about the most?]

According to research from Cone Communications, almost 30 percent of Gen Z are very concerned about the impact of poverty and hunger and prioritize it over the issue of economic development. Other top causes include the environment, human rights, and equality. A Pew Research Center survey shows that 62 percent of Gen Z sees more diversity in society as a good thing.

Paige Johnson is an older member of Gen Z. Born in Highland, Michigan, in 1997, she’s just started her first job at Livewire strategic communications.

“I’m really passionate about environmental causes,” Johnson said, emphasizing that she focuses on the issue of water conservancy. “It’s so direct to me. I grew up with water all around me in Michigan.”

But it’s not just the areas they focus on that sets this generation apart. It’s also how they take action on those causes.

Also important to Gen Z: Putting their wallets where there mouth is and using their purchasing power to make a statement.

“People are willing to spend more money on something if it’s ethically sourced or has an environmental benefit.” — 21-year-old Paige Johnson

According to research from DoSomething Strategic, more than 75 percent of young people have purchased or would consider purchasing a product from a brand to show support for the issue that the brand supports. Members of Gen Z are also willing to take the support away, too. More than 65 percent would stop purchasing or supporting a brand that didn’t have the same values.

Among her peers, Johnson notices that people really care about corporate social responsibility.

“Gen Zers are looking toward organizations to make a stance. I really look into the ethical components before I make a purchase” Johnson said. “People are willing to spend more money on something if it’s ethically sourced or has an environmental benefit.”

Also crucially important for Gen Z—using social media to engage with these issues.

More than 80 percent of Gen Z say they use social media to talk about issues they care about and 87 percent say they’re likely to share their positive opinion of a company addressing the issues on their social media accounts, according the Cone Communications survey.

“With social media, there are a million ways to capture the attention of Gen Z. The biggest thing is making it something we can personally care about. When we see there are local people that are struggling with hunger every day, we’re much more inclined to get involved,” Jake Skoloda, a member of Gen Z told Forbes.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the associate editor of The Renewal Project.