6 Generational Fundraising Statistics You Need To Know As Year-End Approaches

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

It’s officially “go” time!

For most nonprofits, upwards of 30% or more of donations come through the door in these last months of the year. That’s a lot! Therefore, differentiating your cause from others out there is the first step in securing those last-minute donations before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

A smart way to stand out is to understand what your donors are looking for in a nonprofit to support. Thankfully, there’s a lot of data out there that proves there are both major differences and striking similarities in the way each generation of the population gives to charity.

If you’re eager to appeal directly to your donor populations this year-end, consider these six generational fundraising statistics.

Defining Generation Populations

There are sometimes slight differences in the way studies define each generation. For this post, we followed these guidelines.

  • Greatest/Silent/Mature (Pre-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Millennials (1981- 1995)
  • Generation Z/Centennials (1996- ?)

6 Generational Year-End Fundraising Statistics You Need To Know

1. Find Your Donor Niche

Millennials and Generation X most often throw their support under causes dealing with children, youth, animals, and welfare. Baby Boomers have a different focus which centers around health and wellness.

No one magic cause resonates with an entire generation (wouldn’t that be nice?); however, there are commonalities among each population. These affinities make sense when you consider them.

For example, many Baby Boomers are of the age where health and wellness are top-of-mind. Some of them are dealing with elderly parents, health issues of their own, and family and friends who’ve been impacted by illnesses like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Their inclination to support causes that hit close to home isn’t surprising.

The same goes for Millennials and Generation X, who are balancing life with their own children and are thus more likely to give to organizations providing aid to children and youth.

What does this mean for you? Take a look at your donor base and determine if you’re marketing to the right generation. Create one or more donor personas to help you pinpoint your typical donor/s, and craft your year-end communications around them.

2. Reporting Impact

Per The Next Generation of American Giving study, donors under 50 showed markedly more interest than older Americans in seeing a charity’s results. Nearly 60 percent of millennials and half of Generation X donors said that seeing results from their contributions influenced their decision to give. By contrast, only a third of the oldest generation said the same.

Reporting the impact of a donation is a relatively new practice, and it’s something that the younger generations demand frequently. Nonprofits with a majority of Generation X, Millennial, and Generation Z donors will find that impact reports help retain donors down the road.

On the other hand, Boomers don’t care as much about these reports. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still report the information to them, but just realize it isn’t an essential element in their future engagement and eventual retention.

What does this mean for you? Incorporate impact reporting into your retention strategy. If you have a younger donor base, use impact, not just as an after-donation report, but as an inspiration to donate, such as through an impact meter on your donation page.

3. Email and Social Media Inspire Donations

Millennials and Generation X are more often swayed to donate on social media, whereas Baby Boomers tend to respond to emails. On the flip side, only 6% of Millennials and 9% of Gen X appreciate a direct mail appeal, whereas Boomers are more inclined to give after receiving direct mail over a website request.

Sure, younger generations grew up with new technologies like cell phones and the Internet, but older generations do a good job of keeping up with the fast pace of change. Yet, that doesn’t mean that all generations prefer the same types of technology, especially when it comes to donation asks.

Social media is, by far, the best way to connect with Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X. That’s where they’re absorbing content, connecting with friends and brands, and sharing things that matter to them with others.

Email is preferred by Boomers, who often use it to make a decision on whether or not to give.

If you’re using direct mail to appeal to younger generations, consider switching to an online method. However, Boomers are more likely to respond to that direct mail solicitation.

What does this mean for you? Know your audience and their communication preferences. Use your nonprofit CRM to track which method your donors are using to give, and what messages/media prompted that gift. Data is your friend!

4. Mobile Connectivity

86% of Boomers own a cell phone, compared to 92% of Generation X and 95% of Millennials.

The vast majority of people own a cell phone, but how they use their mobile device is key. Centennials, Millennials, and Generation X use it to check emails, connect on social media, and send text messages. They also use their mobile devices to donate to causes they care about.

Although Boomers own and use phones, they do so differently than other generations. If you call and leave a message, they may just call you back (a Millennials probably won’t).

What does this mean for you? Optimize all your communications for mobile. Make sure you have a mobile-friendly website, mobile-optimized donation pages, and optimized emails.

5. Gift Amounts

Fewer Boomers plan to increase their gifts in the coming years. However, 21% of Millennials and 18% of Generation X expect to increase giving.

Although the gift amounts for Baby Boomers are disproportionately higher than those of Gen X and Millennials, only 10% plan to increase their giving in the upcoming year. Compare that to Millennials (21%) and Gen X (18%), and you can see their influence is growing.

What does this mean for you? Before you focus all your attention on these younger generations, consider instead how to you can encourage all of your donors to increase giving. Try step-up programs or suggest monthly giving as an option.

6. Online Crowdfunding & Peer-to-Peer

Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X are more likely to participate either as donors or fundraisers for online crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraisers than Baby Boomers.

The premise behind online crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising has been around for decades, but the Internet has surely modernized the practice.

Today, close to half of Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X are willing to or have already participated in an online crowdfunding or peer-to-peer campaign. Baby Boomers aren’t as likely to use peer-to-peer, however, they are actually more likely to participate in a Facebook fundraiser than their younger counterparts.

In their 2017 campaign, the Asian American Arts Alliance learned about the power of online peer-to-peer fundraising, and the importance of having a broad audience of personal fundraisers sharing the campaign with their own networks.

What does this mean to you? If your donor base is young, diversify your fundraising with an online fundraiser.

To Sum It Up

As you can see, there are both similarities and differences in the way people of different generations absorb and respond to information. If you’re looking for a way to truly connect with donors, then incorporate some of the data outlined above.

Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Track your donors birthdays
  • Understand your typical donor/create donor personas
  • Segment your year-end donor communications based on age
  • Spruce up your online communication and giving options

Donors today expect a highly personalized experience during year-end, and catering to their age demographic is a big part of that.

To learn about how CauseVox can help you meet your fundraising goals, schedule a demo with our team.


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