next Gen

August 12, 2013; npENGAGE

Blackbaud has released a 2013 study breaking down the donation patterns of different age groups by generation: Generation Y, Generation X, the Boomers, and Matures. The study looks at each generation’s online giving and social media habits, as well as their makeup of the total donor population in the U.S. This newswire is our first treatment of that study, but NPQ will follow up with a more in-depth approach to the information next week.

The digital technology on their dynamic graphics is beautifully crafted; we highly suggest you take a gander. Here is the static infographic:

Next Gen

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Boomers are the biggest givers. Baby Boomers are the largest donor group, with 51 million individuals contributing 43 percent of total giving. Even though we are constantly trying to adopt new technology and media uses into fundraising campaigns, do not forget about this vital group.
  • Email is very important. Social media may have emerged as one of the most popular forms of communication in the past few years, but according to this study, email is still highly valued across all generations. Even within the youngest age group, Generation Y, 86 percent use email. The largest percentage of givers correlated with the older populations, with 88 percent of Matures giving and 72 percent of Boomers; both groups listed email as a high priority within Internet usage, with 80 percent of Matures and 87 percent of Boomers using email. Also, 52 percent of Matures gave in response to a direct email, as well as 40 percent of Boomers. This is a change for Boomers from the 2010 study, when the generation was still using direct mail to give. Remember these statistics in your next fundraising campaign.
  • Establish a presence across many social media channels: Although Facebook clearly rings loud and clear as the social media winner throughout all generations, make sure you aren’t focusing too much on one social network. With trends in social media use varying so much among different generations, it’s important to make sure you establish a multichannel presence. Fifty-five percent of Generation Y and 57 percent of Generation X are on LinkedIn, while 55 percent of Generation Y is using Twitter, so make sure you are widening your social media channels to the best of your abilities. Note that when it comes to driving donors, social media has not yet proven itself as a significant way to donate (giving rates have barely changed since Blackbaud’s last report in 2010), but the study does show that social networks can play “an important stewardship role” in driving giving.
  • Crowdfunding has risen in popularity. As crowdfunding increases in popularity, there is a promising potential for fundraising strategies around this trend. Crowdfunding’s appeal is highest to the Gen Y population. Although crowdfunding is gaining traction in charitable giving, the Boomers are still slow to catch on to the trend, with only 13 percent of the generation stating they would likely give to a crowdfunding campaign in the future.
  • Direct mail is still in the picture. Direct mail is still a large driver of donations, specifically among older populations, with 52 percent of Matures and 40 percent of Boomers stating they gave in response to direct mail. Also, although direct mail is not the most popular form of giving for the younger generations, the study also discovered that a majority of Generation Y finds direct mail from a charity acceptable and not intrusive. Blackbaud strongly suggests charities should test direct mail strategies with younger age groups over the next five years.

—Aine Creedon