All generations are not created equal! But you knew that, right?

Understanding the multichannel preferences and charitable habits of Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers, and Matures could have a significant impact on your nonprofit’s fundraising performance, but it could also leave you frozen, retreating back to the familiar.

What’s a fundraiser to do?

Here are a few fundraising ideas … but what I’d really enjoy is seeing yours. How about you leave a comment below with your best ideas on how to use The Next Generation of American Giving Research to improve fundraising performance?

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Fundraising Idea #1 – Know your donors birthdays.

Knowing each donors birthday is the beginning of it all. Without birth dates for every donor it’s impossible to tailor, personalize or customize based on the charitable habits of a generation. Imagine, you could be sending direct mail to a twenty-one year old Gen Y’er who knows a mail box to be something he check on his smart phone. That’s not likely an approach that will yield the results you’re looking for.

Roger and Tom have some great thoughts on this one as well. Make sure to check out what they’ve got to say as well as some of the comments on those posts for additional insights into how one might use donor birthdays to improve fundraising results.

Fundraising Idea #2 – Know your donors well.

Beyond knowing birthdays, you should work at getting to know more about each of your donors.

How often do your donors want to hear from you, how do they like to be communicated with, what exactly do your donors love about the work you do, if they’re on Twitter or Google+, if they frequent your website, and/or if they appreciate the mailing labels you send them in your direct mail pieces.

All of this information, used properly, allows you to tailor communication. Imagine if you could send the right message at the right time to the right device. Response rates would improve. No question.

Fundraising Idea #3 – Direct mail isn’t dead.

In the Next Generation of American Giving Report we show that Baby Boomers and Matures still tend to respond very well to direct mail solicitations. Based on additional research we know that direct mail and other forms of traditional fundraising account for nearly 97% of all fundraising today (though online fundraising continues to show strong growth).

One day Facebook, Twitter, G+, Vine, Instagram and the next big shinny social media site will be a big part of your fundraising strategy, but not today.

Leaving direct mail in the dust for Facebook or email would be a tremendous mistake. Don’t make it. Instead, keep up your great direct mail work while evolving, expanding and adapting (over time) to keep up with where Gen Y and Gen X are headed.

Fundraising Idea #4 – Don’t forget social media.

The counter to fundraising idea #3 above is that sites like Facebook have over one billion users. If your nonprofit isn’t actively building it’s social media presence today then the big givers of tomorrow will likely be giving their hard earned money elsewhere.

55% of Gen Y and 47% of Gen X follow charities on social media; with 29% and 20% of Gen Y and X saying that social media is an extremely or very important way to stay in touch.

These numbers are guaranteed to grow. Be smart and start building your social media chops, growing your capacity, learning the keys to success so that you’re prepared to make the big jump when it’s right for your organization.

Fundraising Idea #5 – Multi-channel is the new normal.

Checking in on Twitter, reading your Facebook news feed, scanning through email and reading up on current events from your smart phone all before you leave for work may be a common practice for you. It is for me.

During that process I tend to delete the emails I don’t care to bother with and save the rest for the big screen. For me that’s when I get downstairs, for others that’s when you get into the office. By 8 am a lot of us have already interacted with two devices. Some may have turned on the TV, others may have cracked open the newspaper or a magazine.

You see, multi-channel is the new normal.

No longer are the days of only reaching people through television or one of the big publications. You’ve got to be everywhere … or … more importantly … you’ve got to be where your current and potential donors are. That may mean having a mobile friendly website and donation form. That might mean putting on the best fundraising event possible. It could mean digging into responsive design or leveraging a local magazine. It doesn’t mean status quo!

Any way you slice it, you’ve got to be where your audience is.

Learn more about generational giving in America

Blackbaud just published some awesome research along with a super cool infographic about generational giving that shows the communications preferences and media habits of baby boomers as well as Generation Y, Generation X and Matures.

Make sure to give it read and think about how you’re approaching fundraising.  The data may give you some insights into how you can improve … or it might validate your current fundraising strategy. Either way, be sure to come back and let us know what you enjoyed most about the report (or fundraising infographic).

Don’t forget to go marvel over the dynamic fundraising infographic.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, helps nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising so they can focus changing the world. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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