Fundraising Trends: Mobile Giving and Crowdfunding, and the Next Generation of Canadian Giving | npENGAGE

Fundraising Trends: Mobile Giving and Crowdfunding, and the Next Generation of Canadian Giving

By on Nov 7, 2013


In a major study of more than 800 Canadian donors that we at hjc recently completed with Blackbaud, Edge Research, and Sea Change Strategies, two big trends stood out: mobile fundraising and crowdfunding.

The increase in use of mobile devices has led us to a place where mobile fundraising can no longer be ignored. And, crowdfunding has emerged as a new form of the familiar “peer-to-peer” fundraising approach that has seen widespread success. But, how will these two trends help you reach each generation of Canadian donors?

First, let’s look at the generations studied. The Next Generation of Canadian Giving 2013, which builds on a similar study conducted in 2010, looks at the philanthropic habits of the following generations of Canadians:

  • Generation Y (or Gen Y, born 1981 – 1995)
  • Generation X (or Gen X, born 1965 – 1980)
  • Baby Boomers (or Boomers, born 1946 – 64)
  • Civics (born 1945 or earlier)

Some interesting data emerged around how the mobile technology and crowdfunding trends are shaping each generation of Canadian donors’ interaction with charities and nonprofits.

Engaging Through Mobile Technology

Since 2010, there has been a 12% increase in donors who have a landline but choose to use their mobile phones. In particular, Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y are all primarily using their mobile phone:

  • 20% of Boomer donors have a landline, but primarily use their mobile phones — a 10% increase since 2010.
  • The use of a mobile phone as a primary phone by Gen X has increased by 20% since 2010, to 39%.
  • 50% of Gen Ys are mobile-only users, while 38% of this generation have a landline but primarily use their mobile phones.

In addition, we asked donors about the ways they chose to engage and stay in touch with charities. Among these vehicles, the desire to use mobile apps by all generation is 3%, and the desire to receive texts/SMS charity messages is 2%. Websites are also critical, but increasingly, Canadians are browsing on a smartphone. The takeaway: The importance of your website displaying correctly on a mobile device can’t be overstated.

In terms of actually giving, we asked Canadian donors whether they would consider making a donation on their mobile device (smartphone or tablet) and through which channels: charity websites (on a smartphone), charity apps, or text to give. The results:

  • Charity websites were identified by the majority of donors as a potential donation channel, as close to 1 in 5 donors said they were willing to donate using a mobile device through a charity site.
  • 44% of Gen Y, 31% of Gen X, 13% of Boomers and 11% of Civics would consider making a donation through their tablet or smartphone on a charity website.
  • 24% of Gen Y, 18% of Gen X, 4% of Boomers and 3% of Civics would be interested in making a donation on a mobile device through a charity app.
  • 17% of Gen Y, 7% of Gen X, 2% of Boomers, and 2% of Civics would consider making a donation on their mobile phone through text-to-give.

Ready or not, the mobile trend is affecting your organization. Your charity website is being accessed through mobile devices, with donors ready to donate through your donation page. Be sure to optimize your website to make the mobile donation process intuitive and donor-centric. Give your donors a hassle-free mobile web and donation experience, and your donors will thank you — perhaps even with another gift.

Crowdfunding and Generational Giving

Crowdfunding involves a large number of people funding a program, project, or cause. Runs, relays and extreme challenges (such as climbing Mount Everest) have already motivated people to collect small sums of money from their peers for years. Crowdfunding uses the same dynamic of many small gifts as peer to peer fundraising, and is a great potential for growth in our sector.

The percentage of Canadians who have given through crowdfunding is similar to the US — 6% of Canadians compared with 9% of Americans. The breakdown by generation:

  • 14% of Gen Y have given through crowdfunding; 43% are likely to give in the future.
  • 7% of Gen X have given through crowdfunding; 24% are likely to give in the future.
  • 4% of Boomers have given through crowdfunding; 13% are likely to give in the future.
  • 4% of Civics have given through crowdfunding; 6% are likely to give in the future.

Donors have multiple options in crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Kiva, Crowdrise, GiveEffect — and this list is growing fast. Charities are also developing their own Crowdfunding platforms, like the innovative HealNow website from the Sunnybrook Foundation. Not all platforms are made alike, while some are uniquely designed for artists, others target consumers, and very few are specializing in charities.

Kickstarter is by far the most popular site amongst donors – receiving 42% of Canadian crowdfunding gifts. Indiegogo was a close second receiving gifts from 25% of Canadian Boomers. Nearly 50% of Boomers’ crowdfunding gifts went to “other” crowdfunding sites – most of which contributed to Kiva (a micro-loan crowdfunding site).

Most platforms will require your donors to access a page outside of your own charity website, so be sure to consider if sending your donors to an external page is right for your organization. Keep in mind that once a donor is out of your site, there are distractions that could make going back to your page difficult. Hosting a peer-to-peer page on your own site keeps donors in your site, giving you a greater advantage in continuing to leveraging your brand and increase peer-to-peer ROI.

Leveraging Mobile and Crowdfunding Trends for Your Organization

From the mobile trend, we learn that donors are using their mobile devices to visit your website and to donate. Be sure to optimize your website for a donor-centric mobile-friendly experience to your donors that you care about their preferences.

Crowdfunding as a fundraising appeal is not quite a new science, as peer-to-peer fundraising has been around for quite some time, but it’s clear that there is great potential in using this approach. Consider what will benefit your organization most — your appeal can be driven by the organization or can leverage the peer-to-peer model, asking participants to raise funds on your behalf.

Marry the two fundraising trends by making your peer-to-peer pages mobile-friendly to allow participants and their donors to maximize their access to your organization.

Find out more about mobile, crowdfunding, and the next generation of Canadian donors in the full report at:


by Michael Johnston, President and Founder, Hewitt and Johnston Consultants (hjc)

Michael Johnston is the president and founder of the global fundraising consultancy, Hewitt and Johnston Consultants (hjc), which has offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, and Cordoba. Michael also is founder of the UK-based fundraising firm Xtraordinary, and the co-founder of two global fundraising products, The Global Legacy Giving Group and the sports-based Fantasy Fundraising. He has helped raise over a billion dollars for his clients.


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