More than twenty years ago I began keeping a file on generations and their attitudes and practices toward giving. It’s a topic that has generated a lot of research and discussion over the years. My file is quite thick.
The most recent addition to my file is “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generations Y, X, Baby Boomers, and Matures”. This August 2013 report summarizes research commissioned by Blackbaud. It builds on another study funded by the software company in 2010.
The Blackbaud study examined the giving habits of four generations of Americans: Generation Y (born between 1981 — 1995), Generation X (born between 1965 — 1980), Baby Boomers (born between 1946 — 1964) and Matures (born 1945 or earlier). The online survey of 1,014 U.S. donors was conducted in mid-May of this year.
There is a lot of helpful information in “The Next Generation of American Giving”. I encourage you to read the full report. To pique your interest in the Blackbaud-sponsored study, here are five of the ten key findings as reported in “The Next Generation of American Giving”:
1. Baby Boomers will exert an outsized influence on giving for the foreseeable future. Although Boomers represent a third of all adults who give, they contribute 43% of all charitable dollars.
2. Multichannel engagement and solicitation of donors is the new normal. While all generations are multi-channel in their communications habits, the ideal mix varies from generation to generation.
3. Direct mail is far from dead, but it won’t last forever. Generations Y and X are far more likely to give online, and as many Baby Boomers say they give online as much as via direct mail.
4. Generation Y donors have distinct preferences in regard to the causes they support with children’s causes being their top charitable interest. Generation Y donors also are more likely to demand accountability and transparency than older donors.
5. The value of some channels (e.g. social media) is understated if measured by transaction metrics only, as opposed to by engagement.
For some time now we have known that the “one size fits all” approach does not work when it comes to generational fundraising strategy. “The Next Generation of American Giving” report underscores the added necessity of a multichannel approach for all generations.
As you develop your generational fundraising strategy, make sure you are collecting birth dates for your donors so you can track donor behavior generationally. Then focus on the right mix of communication and fundraising strategies for each generational group of donors.