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Source:, The Next Generation of American Giving

The onslaught of new communication channels and quickly evolving digital technologies has made it more confusing than ever to navigate the generational giving landscape to effectively engage more donors.

A new study released by Convio, Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies, The Next Generation of American Giving, examines the philanthropic habits of four generations of Americans and is designed to help answer tough questions about generational giving habits. The four generations studied were Generation Y (age 18-32), Generation X (age 33-48), Boomers (age 49-67), and Matures (age 68+).

Understanding the preferences of each age group, and incorporating generational giving principals into your organization’s fundraising strategy, can go a long way in helping you effectively communicate, engage, and ultimately secure more gifts from your donors.

Here, the takeaways of what you can start doing now:

  • Collect Donor Birthdays.
    Undifferentiated “one size fits all” email campaigns are losing ground to highly targeted messaging. Knowing your donors well enough to be able to segment them along generational lines means you can tailor your messaging uniquely by age bracket. The more you know about your donors, the greater your ability to appeal to the topics and sensitivities that drive engagement and donations.

  • Ask donors what they want.
    Asking constituents what information they want and how your organization could service them better doesn’t have to be an onerous process; consider adding a link to a survey on welcome emails, or taking a poll at events. The more organizations invest in finding ways to deliver the information and engagement opportunities that constituents want, the more money and commitment they will derive from those relationships.

  • Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.
    Peer-to-peer fundraising represents a big opportunity to reach all donors, but Generations X and Y are particularly receptive to this channel. Even if your organization doesn’t have a formal event program, you can still get into the peer-to-peer game through do-it-yourself fundraising programs. DIY fundraising allows anyone to raise money on an organization’s behalf while incorporating the value of crowdsourcing and personal networks.

  • Eliminate Barriers.
    Eliminating the internal barriers to cross-functional marketing and communication efforts will help organizations better realize multigenerational engagement. Be prepared for shifts in the kind of organizational transparency younger donors expect, and think about how every side of the organization can contribute to a new model of information sharing.

  • Target by channel.
    Consider what asks are appropriate for each channel and to what cohort. Fundraising through social media may still be in its infancy, but using social media purely as an engagement tool is now considered Fundraising 101. Use social media to promote your website and capture email. Ask donors for feedback on what information they want and how well they think your organization is serving its mission. This will provide valuable information about who your constituents are, the generational cohorts to which they belong, and how to build stronger relationships with each group.

  • Build your sustainer program.
    Sustained giving programs are a convenient and time-saving way to support charities, especially for the Boomer generation. 21% of Boomers say they are already sustainers. Tailoring the ask to those constituents most likely to support an already growing trend will help improve fundraising performance and build confidence that your organization understands the unique needs of each audience.

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