The Generational Divide – The Landscape of Donor Research, Relationships and Generational Realizations Every Nonprofit Should See | npENGAGE

The Generational Divide – The Landscape of Donor Research, Relationships and Generational Realizations Every Nonprofit Should See

By on Apr 9, 2010


If you currently work in a nonprofit organization, or the corporate world for that matter, you’ve no doubt had a conversation in the past year about “generational differences” today. Researchers, executives and pundits of all industries are realizing and analyzing the shift in the current work and media landscape after the advent of the Internet and great fragmentation of media outlets. ‘

How do you reach Generation Y with the many different outlets they use? What motivates them in the workplace? How likely is someone in Generation X going to donate to my organization? And how do you run programs to reach Baby Boomers and Matures while still reaching the up-and-coming 20 & 30 somethings?

In today’s NTEN NTC session “The Generational Divide of American Giving” Andrew Magnuson and Matthew Mielcarek, Nonprofit Consultants, discussed the recent research published by Convio, Edge Research and SeaChange Strategies on the Next Generation of American Giving. And like Andrew said in the panel, while many of the findings could be seen as “captain obvious” data points, the sum of all this data paints a truely imperative picture for nonprofit organizations to study. My main takeaway? Multichannel, multichannel, mutichannel communications!

Many nonprofit staffs are led by Boomers and Matures so the focus is often put on these groups overall for fundraising. But, of course, the donor universe overall spans across all generations so it’s interesting to delve into the findings of the research to see where the opportunities reside and how to best reach these groups. Here were some of the high points Andrew and Matthew shared:

Dollars and cents:

– The relative size of each generational cohorts shows that Matures are one of smaller groups and are declining (79% give). On average they give $1066/ yr.
– Though Gen Y is the least “giving” group, 56% actually donate to charitable causes. On average, they give $341/ yr.
– Boomers and Gen X give $901/yr and $796/yr respectively.


Whooo are you? (or more importantly, what you need to know about who these cohorts are)

Gen Y
– Less likely to give BUT far more likely to talk about it with other
– They will advocate and evangelize for nonprofit organizations.
– They think it’s time to give back, see chance needs to be made.
– Oriented with “what’s in it for me?”
– Half of these people have mobile internet.
– Facebook really if the Killer App with 70% regulalry using, compared to 49% YouTube
– The internet is a thing they expect to access and use 24/7 – if they cant’ upload it share it or see it it’s not real. If they can’t find it online, it doesn’t exist.
KEY: It’s all about leveraging this group to get the word out and evangelize.

Gen X:
– First generation having the internet entire adult life.
– Motivated by their peers
– More likely to respond to something spontaneous
– Just as likely to give to a peer motivated event as they are to participate — great group for run/walk/ride events.
– Looing for affordable, easy way to give.
– More likely to respond to an integrated approach
– Physically incapable of writing a check (lol)
– High level of engagement with social media – especially to help advance their professional career

– Represents significant giving capacity
– Super, duper fearless adopters of technology
– Starting to become more planned giving
– Email is STILL the killer app with this group
– This is the next big focus for nonprofit organizations.
– Newsletters, newsletter, newsletters!

– Actually like to be called and reached out to personally
– Pre-plan their giving
– Still send everything through mail for donations
– Want to guard their investments
– Will self identify with organizations and want to feel like their dollars are being given to support the mission.
– They are very scrutinizing of donations
– Smallest cohort and shrinking
– Less open to new appeals

So what does this all mean? Noteworthy points everyone should make note of…

– Gen Y giving equally across check by mail, gift shop, website, fundraising events, third party vendor
– Gen X completely mutli-channel across all channels
– Boomers and Matures are more concentrated in giving habits on fewer channels
– Peer-to-peer is still seen as “the most appropriate” channel for solicitation
– The need to remove silos within orgnaizations is here with a true multichannel environment
traditional donor databases are dead – there’s is an ever-growing need to better track complex actions, relationships and interactions that we’ve never seen before
– Social networks are important and ever important
– Word of mouth is critical
– Direct mail is still key but it needs to evolve
– Mobile’s time is coming

There’s still much more work and conversations to be had in digging into the implications of all the above. With all the lively conversation and feedback in today’s session, I have no doubt more nonprofits have opinions, questions and realize their own implications from this data.

Have anything you want to share or ask about the research? Share here and help the rest of the nonprofit community keep the conversation going and finding new ideas to put this data to good use.

And if you want to download/see the full presentation, check it out below!




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