In a sea of channels, the best way to stand out is to ensure you’re showing up where your audience is most likely to be. But navigating information channels is trickier than navigating TV channels, especially if you don’t have the right information.
With the rise of technology has come a proliferation of giving channels nonprofits can, and arguably should, utilize to fundraise. In days long past, the only channels an organization had to concern itself with were in-person and direct mail giving opportunities.
Now, people can also make donations through text messages, emails, websites and social media. With all these avenues opening, navigating the ever-changing landscape of giving can be challenging, and being in the dark can make it almost impossible to get the most out of fundraising efforts.
The Blackbaud Institute of Philanthropic Impact’s 2018 report, Next Generation of American Giving, gives insight into how people are using these channels to give now, how they may be using them in the future and what nonprofits can do to best engage with their audience.
Here are a few key takeaways:
- Direct mail still brings in the most money.
Direct mail still brings in eight to nine times more money than email each year. Because Baby Boomers (ages 54-72) and Matures (ages 73 and above) are responsible for most of the giving, it is not all that surprising that direct mail still has this kind of pull. However, it is important to consider that the current philanthropic landscape is structured towards these age groups and their preferred giving methods. Effectively utilizing new channels of giving is a skill many have not mastered yet but is one that will become increasingly important as Generation X (ages 38-53) approaches prime giving years.
- But direct mail has also experienced the sharpest decline in donors.
When the Next Generation of American Giving report was published in 2010, 49% of donors reported using direct mail. Now, it is only responsible for 23% of donors. Because new channels have arrived on the scene since 2010, it makes sense that giving would be spread across them. However, while email giving has stayed consistent and online giving as a whole is making steady gains, these channels are not fully compensating for this drop in direct mail giving. Though dollars donated is growing, less people are donating. Not only does this make keeping existing donors more important, but it means that nonprofits may need to try new things to attract more potential donors.
- Online giving is kind of like cable TV.
In 2010, giving online meant donating money through a website or email. Now, online-giving includes social media as well. But it isn’t as simple as adding one more option. With social media comes a plethora of platforms, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. The Next Generation of American Giving report compares it to TV before and after the introduction of cable. What started out as a few, broad channels has now morphed into a multitude of niche channels.
- Email could represent a good middle ground between direct mail and newer digital channels.
Since 2013, email has been responsible for 14% of donors. And while it does not account for a majority of dollars, email newsletters appear to be the only channel of giving with which Matures and Baby Boomers are willing to engage. Though all generations say that direct mail is an appropriate channel nonprofits can use to ask for money, the youngest generations imply they won’t respond to direct mail donation requests, instead preferring digital methods.
- ‘Choice anxiety’ could be to blame for a decrease in donors.
‘Choice anxiety’ occurs when a person chooses to do nothing when faced with too many options. This could be why there has been a decline in the number of people donating to nonprofits. Donors may be overwhelmed with too many ways to give. Or it could just be that we do not yet know how to effectively harness the potential of new channels. Just because online avenues aren’t showing optimal results yet does not mean that they won’t in the future, as we better learn to work with these channels and as the landscape of giving changes.
For more insights on the multichannel preferences and charitable habits of Millennials through Matures, and a look into the charitable perspective of up-and-coming Generation Z, download the Next Generation of American Giving report for free: https://institute.blackbaud.com/asset/the-next-generation-of-american-giving-2018/.