Individual Donor Giving Differences

Different fundraising causes, vehicles, and ways to research nonprofits appeal to different generational cohorts. Using the information about each donor group to customize your fundraising program will drastically increase the response to your appeal and improve your fundraising results. The U.S. Census Bureau and The Center for Generational Kinetics generational cohort information both provide data on generational preferences.

Matures were born 1945 or earlier. Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Gen Xers were born 1965 to 1979. Millennials were born from 1980 to 1995. Generation Z is defined as people born after 1995.

What People Give To

According to “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, Y, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, top causes for Mature donors include emergency relief, troops and veterans, the arts, advocacy, and election campaigns. Baby Boomer donors are top supporters of first responder organizations, human rights, religious and spiritual causes. Top Gen X donor causes include health services, animal welfare and environmental protection. Millennials are top supporters of human rights and international development, child development, and victims of crime and abuse.

How People Give

In the same vein, different generational cohorts prefer to donate using different giving vehicles. Mature donors prefer voice calls and direct mail; however, 30 percent do donate online. They do not respond to text messaging or follow social media. Forty-nine percent of Baby Boomer donors give through a monthly giving program. Forty-six percent give through workplace initiatives. Twenty-one percent give through Facebook. Forty-nine percent of Gen Xer’s donate through a monthly giving program.  Nineteen percent donate through Facebook. Gen Xer’s respond to text messaging, email, and social media campaigns. They also respond to phone calls. Forty percent of Millennial donors donate through a monthly giving program. Forty-seven percent of Millennial donors give through a website while 16 percent give through Facebook. Millennial donors respond best to text messaging and social media, rarely responding to email or voice calls. Fifteen percent of Generation Z donates to charity, mainly online. Twenty-six percent of Generation Z volunteer.

How People Seek Information

Likewise, the different generations research the nonprofits they are interested in supporting in different ways. Matures tend to rely on printed information, like annual reports and financial statements. Baby Boomers glean information from annual reports and websites. Gen Xers like to get their information online. They will go to your website and social media to conduct their research. Millennials rely more on their peers and social media. Generation Z goes to social media and social media influencers.

To reach all the donor cohorts, publish an annual report but send it only to your Mature donors who want printed information. Send it electronically to your Baby Boomer donors. Make sure your website is accurate and transparent for the potential Baby Boomer and Gen Xers donors that  visit it. You may want to include an infographic reporting on your agency’s website and links to your audits and 990s. Work hard at establishing a strong social media presence so that potential Gen X, Millennial, and Generation Z donors hear about your organization. And ask your Millennial and Generation Z supporters to spread the word and share information about your cause and work. In other words, to fundraise effectively, you will need to develop and pay attention to all of your nonprofit’s marketing strategies and materials.  

Bringing It Together

To appeal to individual donors, understand their interests, how they give, and where they get their information. Make it easy for people to know about your nonprofit and its work. Communicate organizational information using a variety of communication vehicles. To raise the most money, also make sure the methods you use to ask for and receive donations matches your donors’ preferences. You want people to have as pleasant an experience of your agency as possible so that they feel good when interacting with your organization and you increase the chances of their financial support. 

Next Steps

Let’s talk about how your nonprofit is appealing to individual donors and what your next steps are.  You’re invited to schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session with me.  During our time together, we’ll clarify the issues your nonprofit is facing, explore possible solutions, and develop a plan of action.

I look forward to speaking with you!

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