For nonprofits and charitable organizations to achieve their mission and serve their beneficiaries, they often rely on funding from donors. But not all donors are the same. Each generation has their own distinct habits and trends. Whether it’s Gen Z or Baby Boomers, learning those habits can help you target the right people, increase your donor base, and multiply your mission. We’ve examined four generations and analyzed the donation characteristics of each.
Baby Boomers (Born 1946–1964)
As the second-largest generation in the US, Baby Boomers represent a massive portion of donors with a huge capacity for giving. They are nearing retirement and by virtue of age will often have more disposable income or ability to give. They typically prefer giving to nonprofits that are well-established and respected. To determine that an organization is worthy, Baby Boomers will check a nonprofit’s financial reports, media coverage, and testimonials. Highlight this information on your website so that it’s easy to find.
Baby Boomers are also very concerned about their gift being spent wisely, and they want to know that the money they donate will be used to make a difference. Following up with a donor from this generation to give details on how their donation was used will go a long way in creating an advocate, and a lifelong donor.
Generation X (Born 1965–1980)
Many donors in this age group see charitable giving as a part of their identity and are very intentional about the causes they support. They are extremely wary of organizations that have bad reviews or negative testimonials, and place a high value on authenticity. Be sure to keep these sections of your website up-to-date, and make sure to respond to all reviews you receive, good or bad.
Engage with Generation X in a variety of ways. While they prefer receiving personalized donation receipts via email, they are also happy to speak with an employee on the phone during a follow-up call. Keep them engaged by updating your social media often, reaching out via direct mail, and calling with updates. Staying in touch with Generation X will keep them interested and engaged with your organization!
Millennials (Born 1981–1996)
Millennials are the largest generation in the US, and are a vital group to consider when doing outreach and fundraising. They prefer to give digitally, so make it simple to donate through your website, social media, and even text messages or apps. Because they embrace social media, they are the population most likely to donate on Giving Tuesday or similarly viral charitable initiatives. If you’ve been on the fence in the past about social media, be sure to get your channel set up by this November to capitalize on this group.
Millennials are all about a personal touch and see nonprofit staff as a huge representation of the organization itself. Ensure that every touchpoint, from your voicemail greeting to your personalized email follow-ups are aligned with a uniform voice. Encourage employees to make each interaction special, whether it’s a long-time donor or someone simply seeking more information about your organization.
Gen Z (Born 1997–2012)
As the first generation that truly grew up with the internet, Gen Z has a high level of awareness about what’s going on in the world and as a result, they are very likely to seek out causes that are important to them. They’re passionate about making a difference in the world and people’s stories resonate with them. Gen Z is extremely savvy about marketing tactics and can easily see through insincerity. Maintaining an authentic voice on all of your outlets, especially your social media, is crucial.
When Gen Z decides they’d like to donate to a cause, they want it to be easy. Like Millennials, they want to see a donate button on your social media or have the ability to donate directly through a text message. They are also used to the connectivity that the internet provides and want to be able to get updates frequently, and have up-to-date information at their fingertips on your website and social media. It is better to have fewer social media platforms and be able to keep up with them, rather than having them all but with outdated content. Sharing stories from your beneficiaries will go a long way with Gen Z.
Every generation has a slightly different relationship with donating. Identifying the gaps in your donor base and learning how to best engage with those groups can go a long way toward building your organization and multiplying your mission!