We’re in the midst of a generational shift: Millennials have recently surpassed Boomers as the largest generation in America, and have surpassed Generation X as the largest part of the American workforce.
As these changes happen, nonprofits should take a look at their marketing channels and make sure they are using the right methods to reach each generation.
The biggest mistake nonprofit organizations can make is using a blanket approach to try to connect with the entirety of their current donor base or reach out to gain new donors.
Each generation is unique when it comes to expectations, values, experiences, giving habits and communication preferences, so your marketing strategy should reflect that.
Once you achieve a better understanding of what makes each generation different, your nonprofit will be able to take whatever great fundraising ideas you may have and effectively engage more people to increase attendance at your next event, grow the members of your volunteer program, and get more donations than you’ve ever imagined.
Understanding Generational Giving Behaviors is Key to Maximizing Supporter Engagement and Investment
Take a look at this useful generational giving infographic about the giving behavior of the four key demographic segments in the US.
Why people give does not vary as much as how they give.
So understanding their preferred communications channels becomes increasingly important.
Let’s take a closer look at today’s different demographic segments.
Millennials and Gen Xers make up of over two-thirds of the workforce today.
Why is this important? Being part of the workforce means getting a paycheck, and with a paycheck comes the ability to donate to causes. With the vast majority of Millennial and Gen X donors owning a smartphone, mobile giving will soon dominate the fundraising landscape.
Millennials: Age 18-35
There is a perception Millennials are self-centered but they may be far more generous than you think, wanting to take action for causes they care about.
Millennials are active on their phones and respond best to text messages and social media, but rarely respond to personal email or voice calls.
They tend to watch videos online and check the organization’s website before making a gift. Over 62% gave through a mobile device at about $25 per donation, but as Millennials climb the pay scale, that number is projected to grow.
- Millennials donate an average of $481 annually
- 84% of Millennials made a donation in 2014, most of which were made online
- 70% spent at least an hour volunteering
- In 2015, one-third of Millennials participated in #GivingTuesday
Gen Xers: Age 36-50
These donors are most likely to fundraise on behalf of a cause, make a pledge, and volunteer their time to an organization.
These donors check email regularly, stay up to date on social media feeds, and prefer to receive communication by text message making mobile and online solutions vital in targeting them.
They also volunteer more and more often than any other generation. This is a huge opportunity for your nonprofit because volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers.
- Gen Xers donate an average of $732 annually
- 80% own a smartphone (2nd only to Millennials)
- 59% give to charity
- 30% of Gen Xers volunteer—more than any other generation
Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation are retired or heading there, meaning that their donation behaviors will soon start to change.
Once Boomers and the Greatest Generation retire, they tend to end up volunteering more as well. Incomes may be fixed, but many have done well and are more generous as other obligations fall away. How they give is different than their younger counterparts, but they are still important for philanthropy.
Baby Boomers: Age 50-68
You may think Boomers don’t have tech skills but don’t underestimate them—they’ve adopted mobile and social technology at a rapid rate. On average, boomers spend 19 hours a week online and 71 percent use a social networking site daily.
These donors answer calls and check their email on a regular basis.
Recurring giving is the norm for a lot of Boomers, who make up 21% of all monthly donors.
When it comes to online fundraising boomers have been a growing and driving force in recent years. In 2010 just 44% of boomers donated online, today over 60% give online.
- Boomers donate an average of $1,212 annually
- 54% own a smartphone
- 72% give to charity
Greatest (or Silent) Generation: Age 69+
This generation is very civic minded and their experiences and values make them great contributors to your organization. They feel like the biggest difference they make is through the money they donate.
These donors’ preference of communication are voice calls and direct mail. They are late adopters of email and rarely use text messaging or social media.
- Greatests donate an average of $1,367 annually
- 27% own a smartphone
- 88% give to charity – a higher percentage than any other group
5 Simple Ways to Engage Millennial and Gen X Donors
1. Reap the benefits of mobile marketing with a 98% open rate
Utilize a text-to-donate campaign to target Millennials and Gen Xers where they spend most of their time: on their smartphone.
Text messages have a 98% open rate which almost guarantees that your message will be seen, keeping your supporters engaged and up-to-date with your cause.
2. Save time and money by using social media effectively
Implement a social media strategy to engage supporters through the social networks where they are most active online.
Find out which networks your supporters frequent and focus on the channels where you will get the most engagement. If most of your supporters are on Facebook and Twitter, then you will probably want to hold off on Snapchat until you nail down the strategy for the others.
Here are helpful tips and free tools to implement into your social media strategy to save your organization time and money.
3. Create compelling videos to tell a story about your cause
Most Millennials have no patience for traditional marketing methods like flyers and other direct mail. They want to learn about and build a relationship with your organization before they decide to become donors or volunteers in the future, and video is one of the best ways to do that.
Make sure to include a call to action at the end of the video, be it to donate to your cause or subscribe to your channel. Learn more about video marketing for your nonprofit.
4. Mobile-friendly websites and donation forms are a must
The amount of people from these groups that your organization can engage with will be affected by how mobile-friendly your website and online donation forms are. Mobile solutions allow these groups to:
- Make donations
- Become volunteers
- Join your cause
- Sign up for events
Optimizing these for mobile delivery will allow you to appeal to this fast-growing group, which will bring your organization lasting success for years to come.
5. Crowdfunding campaigns can garner fast results
Crowdfunding is emerging as one of the very best ways to gain new donors. Don’t believe it? 5 out of 8 donors crowdfunding for nonprofits are new to each organization and the average individual collects $612.
Volunteers, advocates, celebrities, and corporate partners can raise donations from friends and family using their own peer-to-peer fundraising pages shared across social media, text message, and email.
90% of Millennials and Gen Xers are receptive to these peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, which are now generating ⅓ of all online donations.
4 Simple Ways to Engage Donors 50+
1. Reach a wide range of donors through email marketing
Email is still one of the most effective ways to reach supporters young and old. A 2013 Pew Research Center study, shows 70% of adults 65 and older use the internet on a daily basis.
You do not want to miss a chance to reach potential large donors that are waiting for you to ask them for donations through email. Over 50% give to charity in response to an email and over 80% use email on a regular basis, so an effective email strategy can cultivate great results.
2. Direct mail drives online donations
For many people, direct mail is annoying and often gets thrown away, but it is still embraced by older generations and drives these donors to make online donations. However, a poor online experience will actually decrease giving.
Direct mail is not dead and can play a strong supporting role in multi-channel fundraising. 35% of donors say they prefer to respond to direct mail by giving online. For each direct mail campaign sent, follow up with 3 compelling messages across your online channels.
3. Personal phone calls
Older generations still enjoy interacting over the phone and establishing a relationship with the caller before they decide to give. Around 15% of Boomers and Greatest Generation donors still give over the phone.
It is also important to listen to your potential donor when you make your call and find out how people feel about your organization. This information will tell you how to personalize the ask, increasing your chance to get them to donate.
4. In person
Make sure that when you speak to donors face-to-face your passion for your cause shines through. Anyone can read off a bunch of stats and facts, but if you are not actively displaying passion for your organization and showing how you care, then neither will your donor. Show interest in your donor too. Make it a conversation where you also ask them to share their passion with you. The key is making them feel like they mean more to your organization than just dollars.
Don’t forget to ask them for their email so you can keep in touch. And ask them if there are social media channels they frequent. In a short period of time, you’ll be able to engage them with your organization across channels, thus engaging more consistently, increasing their loyalty and causing them to be more pre-disposed to give to your cause.
One constant across generations is managing relationships, which has not changed.
What is changing is how to manage and cultivate those relationships. Nonprofit leaders need to embrace the changes in the generational giving landscape. In the upcoming years, the fundraising landscape will continue to shift more and more towards mobile and online. Your fundraising plans need to change to fit the desires and needs of the future.
More and more of your supporters are on social media and are attached to their smartphones. In order to be successful you will need to expand your marketing efforts to connect with your supporters through online and mobile channels to increase engagement and giving to your cause for years to come.
This is a guest post from Steve Page, blogger, marketer, and webmaster for MobileCause, a mobile and online fundraising software platform for a new generation of donors. Steve enjoys helping nonprofit organizations with their websites and getting their online campaigns running successfully.