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Effective Fundraising Techniques for Reaching Gen X Donors

fundraising marketing and communications relationship building Dec 18, 2020

As we have discussed in previous blogs, to achieve the best results from your fundraising campaigns you must customize your fundraising activities to reach specific audiences. Applying different fundraising techniques to reach different groups of donors produces better fundraising results. Information to understand different generation cohorts is available through the census bureau and The Center for Generational Kinetics. We have already explored the characteristics of and addressed creating effective techniques to reach Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer donors. Now we explore the general characteristics of and specific fundraising techniques that best reach Gen X donors.

Gen X Donor Cohort Characteristics

Gen Xers were born in the years 1965-1979. They are the sons and daughters of the early Baby Boomers. Gen Xers were born during periods of tremendous cultural turmoil: the civil rights era, Vietnam War protests and Watergate scandal. In addition, women started working outside the home in greater numbers than before. With both parents working, many Gen Xers were latch-key kids. As latch-key children, they learned to rely on themselves to meet their own needs while their parents were at work. During that time, divorce rates also went up, which gave rise to more single-parent and, when remarriage occurred, stepfamily arrangements.

Gen Xers also came of age during the advent of computers and the rise in technology, which has had a tremendous impact on the way Gen Xers communicate and interact. Gen Xers today tend to be established in their career paths with stable incomes. They also tend to be married with children in high school or college or living at home after college. As the Baby Boomers retire, Gen Xers are taking their place as the movers and shakers in society.

Gen Xers today make up 20.4 percent of the United States population, a smaller percentage than Baby Boomers. Gen Xer’s, however, make up 33 percent of workforce, a larger percentage than Baby Boomers. According to Charitable Giving in the USA 2019, 57 percent of Gen Xers donate and 28.9 percent volunteer. They contribute 20 percent of total charitable giving. According to the report “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, top Gen X donor causes include health services, animal welfare and environmental protection. Fifty-six percent will attend or participate in a fundraising event. Forty-nine percent donate through a monthly giving program.  Nineteen percent donate through Facebook. Up to date with technology, Gen Xer’s respond to text messaging, email and regularly check social media. They will also respond to phone calls.

Developing Effective Fundraising Campaigns Aimed to Reach Gen Xer Donors

Unlike Greatest Generation donors, Gen X donors tend not to respond to direct mail appeals. Like Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer donors, Gen X donors will respond to phone calls. However, because of the effects of the rise of technology, the best way to reach Gen Xers is through email campaigns, text messaging and social media. This is good news for fundraisers because email and social media fundraising campaigns are less expensive to implement than direct mail or phone campaigns.

Whereas Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers are more likely to rely on printed annual reports and financial statements, Gen X donors will conduct their due diligence using technology. Which means that the design and friendliness of your agency’s website is of the utmost importance. Including being mobile friendly. To make your fundraising campaigns the most effective, use both social media and email to get your message out. You can also reach Gen X donors through online videos and they will respond.

Much like with Greatest Generation donors, when you craft your messages to Gen X donors center them around themes of individualism and resourcefulness. Because they value self-sufficiency, Gen X donors may contribute to activities that encourage independence for your clients or for your organization. In addition, point out what makes your agency unique, not only in terms of mission fulfillment but also in the processes you use to meet that mission. For example, you can talk about any unique partnerships you have that leverage resources. 

At 33 percent, Gen Xers make up a significant portion of the US workforce. Which means, just like Baby Boomer workers, companies are eager to recruit and retain them. Which means you need to look into workplace giving programs to realize maximum dollars. Do you know who your Gen X donor employers are? Have you asked them? Do you promote employer matching gift programs in your fundraising campaigns? Does your organization recruit or have a base of Gen X volunteers? Do their employers pay them for the volunteerism or make contributions on their behalf when they volunteer? It’s worth looking into. Have you talked to the decision makers of the corporate philanthropy efforts to find out if your cause falls into company giving areas? Letting your Gen X donors know you do these things shows your resourcefulness in action, which appeal to them. In addition, you will realize additional corporate giving revenues, which will further increase the resources available for mission fulfillment.

In Conclusion

To wrap up, remember that to reach Gen X donors:

  • Email campaigns, text messaging and social media campaigns work best.
  • Ask them to like, follow and promote you on social media.
  • Craft your messages using themes of independence and resourcefulness.
  • Tap into workplace giving initiatives.
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