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How to attract donors of all generations

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Successful online fundraising often involves understanding the demographics of your potential donors and understanding what motivates them to give. Each generation living today grew up in a dramatically different world than the others. This will play a part in the method by which your nonprofit receives donations. Because of this, the key to marketing that reaches all generations is to recognize their differences and let that reflect in your marketing strategy.

Nonprofits should do their best to avoid the temptation to only focus on acquiring donations from the richest generation or the most charitable generation. Instead, know that each generation gives in a different way, and will respond well to different marketing tactics.

Here’s a breakdown of each generation and how they interact with nonprofits when donating:

Silent Generation: 1945 or earlier

Who they are:

Though members of this generation are in their 70’s or older, they also happen to be Facebook’s fastest growing demographic and make up 11% of the site’s users. Since this demographic is using social media and the web to some extent, it’s important not to limit them to the “direct mail only” list. They will see your Facebook posts and ads, and will interact with them. The Silent Generation also consistently contributes about a quarter of all donations to charity each year.

How to engage:

  • Use Facebook to catch their attention and remind them to give
  • Direct mail is still the best way to collect their donations
  • Mail newsletters and information about your nonprofit

Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1965

Who they are:

The Baby Boomers’ reputation as the current most charitable generation still holds true. Most tend to be especially loyal givers, donating to the same charities they first gave to when they were in their 20’s and 30’s. This generation is more concerned with how their monetary gift will be used within the organization and 44% say they prefer having the option to choose. Though Baby Boomers are not typically considered to be tech-savvy, they are becoming more and more active online, spending an average of 19 hours per week online. This generation is fairly split between giving online and giving via direct mail, making them an easy audience to market to as the overlap between the differences of the Silent Generation and Gen X.

How to engage:

  • Post links to your online giving page on your social accounts
  • Continue to use direct mail campaigns
  • Provide options for donors to choose how their money will be used, both on the online forum and direct mail

Generation X: 1965 – 1980

Who they are:

Though Millennials are often thought of as the most tech-savvy generation, Gen X was the first generation to give online and pioneered the digital age. This generation, now in their 30’s and 40’s, currently holds a higher median household income than the other generations. Twenty-nine percent of Gen x volunteered in 2015, also a higher percentage than other generations. This is a key statistic since research shows that volunteers are nearly two times more likely to donate to charity than those who don’t volunteer. Gen X also donates more frequently than other generations, meaning it’s not only important to keep track of how you are connecting with members of this demographic, but also how many opportunities to give you are presenting them with each year.

How to engage:

  • Ensure your website is optimized for mobile and the process for online giving via mobile devices is clear and fool-proof
  • Though they may prefer to give through an online forum, social media is the best way to make the initial connection with this generation
  • Provide online options for joining a monthly giving club to allow donors to automate their donations and stay connected to your cause all year long

Millennials: 1980 – 2000

Who they are:

According to the Millennial Impact Report for 2014, 87% of Millennials donated to charity in 2014 and 84% of the donations they made were made online. Now the young professionals of the world, Millennials are also very likely to give when the opportunity is presented by their employer or colleague. As is so often spoken about, they are the first generation to grow up with technology and they use it constantly. Ninety-one percent say they reviewed a nonprofit’s website before they donated, and they are much more likely to donate to a nonprofit via a social media site or text message than the other generations.

How to engage them:

Each generation responds differently to nonprofits and has different ways of giving. Make sure your nonprofit website is reaching all generations!

Image credit

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Since founding 4aGoodCause in 1998, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves - building software that makes a difference in the world. For almost 20 years, Ronald and the 4aGoodCause online fundraising platform have helped raise millions of dollars for nonprofits from Maine to Hawaii. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @4aGC.

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