Charities face fundraising generation gap, giving survey says

Mature donors give 38 per cent more than baby boomers, according to a report by the fundraising software company Blackbaud

Giving: is there a generation gap?
Giving: is there a generation gap?

Charities are facing a generation gap in fundraising, with mature donors giving 38 per cent more than the post-war 'baby boomer' generation, research suggests.

The report, The Next Generation of UK Giving by the fundraising software company Blackbaud, surveyed 1,498 UK donors of all ages about how they give and engage with charities.

According to the report, not enough is being done to address a potential long-term donations deficit in which mature donors, born in 1945 or earlier, give 27 per cent more each year than those from 'Generation X', people born between 1965 and 1980.

The report says that mature donors give an average of £211.30 each year, spread between 5.3 different causes. 'Generation Y', those born between 1981 and 1991, give an average of £113.22 a year to 4.6 different causes, it says, and baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, give an average of £153.28 a year to 5.4 different causes.

The report says that charities should take a "multichannel" approach, using different fundraising techniques to engage donors.

It says: "With many years of philanthropic giving still ahead of them and significant giving potential, Boomer and Gen X donors are now the most valuable to the third sector, and UK organisations should pay close attention to their giving and communication preferences. This report shows that building an integrated (cross-channel) marketing plan best respects their multichannel predisposition."

According to the report, many fundraisers believe only younger donors give online, but in reality donors of all ages now make online donations through charity websites. Nearly half of mature donors (47 per cent) give through monthly direct debits, but they are as likely to give online as the youngest donors, the report says. Two-thirds of mature donors use Facebook, the report reveals.

Older age groups are the most likely to value communication by post, but the figures for Generations Y and X are close, suggesting that mail is still an important communication channel, the report says.

The youngest age group is the most likely to engage with charities online and share actions with others through digital social networks. Twenty-seven per cent follow a cause on a social network and 25 per cent share a charity’s content with others online, the report says. But middle-aged donors also take part in online advocacy and view video and podcasts, it says.

The most common ways for people to give are at shop counters (45.5 per cent) and by donating to charity shops (44.7 per cent).

Martin Campbell, Blackbaud Europe’s director of strategy and innovation, said: "There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fundraising for not-for-profits, and the key to successful fundraising and engagement with supporters of all generations is to be multichannel.

"Every generation uses every channel; they just do so in different ways. Adopting an integrated and multichannel approach will play a major role in bridging this generation gap, targeting the right people at the right time through the most appropriate channel."

But Polly Gowers, founder and chief executive of the online give-as-you-shop portal Give as you Live, said previous research by her organisation had found that some channels are more important for securing donations while others are more effective at engaging donors.

"The report is quite right in saying a multichannel approach is important because every generation uses various channels in different ways," she said. "That said, many charities do not have unlimited resources to maximise all channels, and the challenge is where to focus efforts.

"We found that some channels are important in providing donations while others are a more effective donor-engagement tool. This understanding enables charities to better allocate resources and increase support, which is why we encourage charities to continually use the survey to understand their donor base."

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