What Does "The Next Generation of Giving" Mean for You?

We've been reading a lot lately about Blackbaud's recent report, The Next Generation of American Giving, and if you haven't already read it, be sure to download a copy of the findings or skim over the accompanying infographic. But to hold you over in the meantime, here are a few of our takeaways:

  • Boomers (ages 49-67) account for 43% of total giving, while Generation X and Generation Y combined (ages 48 and under) account for 31% of giving. So while it is important to reach out to your younger donors, your core group is over the age of 50 and still responds through traditional offline channels such as direct mail.
    Now, more than ever, your organization should be using a multichannel approach to reach out to donors because even though digital fundraising is on the rise, your direct mail program is still your fundraising foundation. Sending an e-blast that mirrors a recent direct mail appeal is a great and relatively easy starting point for multichannel fundraising. Also noted in the report, testing of direct mail strategies with Generation Y's (ages 18-32) should be high on your organization's priority list in the next five years.
  • When asked what makes the biggest impact, 48% of Matures (ages 68 and older) and 45% of Boomers said monetary donations, while 30% of Generation Y's said volunteering makes the biggest impact. However, Matures are actually the ones doing the most volunteering. Now, that doesn't mean your young philanthropists don't want to be involved or only 'talk the talk.' Matures are more than likely retired, so they have more flexible hours and time for volunteering, but your Generation Y's should have volunteer opportunities available during 'off-hours' such as evenings and weekends or low-commitment volunteering - once or twice a month on a committee or board.
    Getting your younger constituents engaged through non-monetary support now is crucial to your organization's future success. When Generation Y is able to contribute more financially in the future, you will already have a strong relationship and be a priority organization with this group.
  • Speaking of Generation Y, 60% said the ability to directly see the impact of their donation has a significant bearing on their decision to give and half of Generation X's (ages 33-48) agreed. Again, engagement with your organization is going to affect Generation Y and X's giving decisions both now and in the future. Offering volunteer opportunities and tours of your facilities are great starting points. But what about creating a video telling the story of a family your organization has helped? Or sharing an online photo album showcasing the progress of an animal your organization rescued?
    Your 50-and-under supporters are wired almost 24/7 so using digital communication is a great way to engage and share information about what's happening at your organization. And, your social media is a valuable and cost-effective asset in staying connected, especially when 50% of Generation Y's and 38% of Generation X's said they share information about organizations they support with friends on Facebook - that's free publicity for you!

One thing to keep in mind as you read the report is every organization is different and therefore, fundraises and engages differently. Don't overhaul your entire fundraising program trying to perfectly segment and target every generation of donor. Start small by finding out your donors' birthdays - this will give you an idea of your donor base's generational breakdown. Then, test and find out the best ways for your organization to engage each group and create a valuable, long-term relationship.



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