Generational Giving and Year-End Fundraising

In a previous blog, we discussed how direct mail can give your year-end fundraising a much-needed jolt. To maximize giving, we recommend cleaning up your data, sharing stories of impact, personalizing your mailings, and creating omni-channel campaigns that integrate direct mail with email, phone, text, and social media outreach.

As you develop and execute your year-end fundraising strategy, it’s also important to understand how different generations prefer to give and what motivates them to act. Research shows that direct mail can be very influential is this process.

The Boomer Effect

According to the most recent version of Blackbaud Institute’s The Next Generation of American Giving report, Baby Boomers are the most generous generation. The study found that Boomers were responsible for 41 percent of all donations and represented 55 percent of high-wealth donors. In fact, Boomers were the only generation that increased its giving levels from 2013 to 2018.

What most people don’t realize is that Boomers aren’t passing the generosity torch to Gen X or Millennials any time soon. Nearly three-quarters of Boomers said they planned to give the same or more the next year. Although Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers for the first time in 2019 as America’s largest generation, the average age of all donors is 64. Boomers are expected to be the highest-giving generation for at least another five years.

Incidentally, Matures born before 1946 donated more money per capita and gave to more charities than any other generation. Although this generation is now much smaller in size, Matures were responsible for one-fifth of all charitable donations, according to the Blackbaud report.

Motivating Factors

According to data from the 2018 Global Trends and Giving Report, more and more giving is shifting online, which shouldn’t shock anyone. 55 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers and 54 percent of Boomers prefer to give online.

However, 19 percent of Boomers prefer to give via direct mail, while 14 percent of Millennials and 10 percent of Gen Xers prefer to send cash.

18 percent of Boomers are most inspired to give by direct mail, which is right on par with social media (19 percent) for this generation. Millennials (39 percent) and Gen Xers (33 percent) are most inspired to give by social media, while smaller percentages (6 percent for Millennials and 9 percent for Gen X) are most inspired by direct mail.

There are two takeaways here. First, although most giving happens online, the data shows that a significant portion of gifts are still being sent by mail, especially by generous Boomers. Some donors who are skittish with online transactions or cybersecurity, especially older generations, might be more comfortable dropping a check in the mail.

Second, direct mail can drive donors to social media apps on mobile devices or laptops to watch a video or read a story that inspires them to give. Direct mail can also be a very effective storytelling medium on its own and drive donors directly to a donation web page. One study found that 24 percent of Baby Boomer donors gave online after receiving direct mail that directed them online.

The key is to engage your donors, learn as much about them as possible, enter this data into your donor database, and use generational data as a guide when developing your year-end fundraising strategy.

You still have time to wrap up what has likely been a challenging fundraising year with a successful year-end campaign! Contact us to unleash the power of Digital Dog Direct.