FUNDRAISING NEWS: Demographics disrupt traditional donor roles

Demographic changes are likely to force fundraisers to abandon younger donor profiles and target older age groups in order to stave off a potential collapse in committed giving.

Most of the 1.25 million new direct debit givers recruited by charities each year are from the 25-40 age group. But because the number of people entering that age range is decreasing, charities will have to start focusing on 50-70 year-olds, according to a report published this week by direct marketing and cause-related marketing consultants, The John Watson Partnership.

Just 600,000 people each year are now entering the 25-40 age group, so each of those would have to commit a monthly gift to two charities to maintain the current rate of growth in the number of committed givers.

"Fundraisers in other countries mainly target the 45-65 age group, but with the onset of easy monthly payment system the UK has moved towards younger donors over the past 10 years," said Tony Masters, senior partner at John Watson. "This will have to change."

The report argues that the 50-70 age range is becoming the most sustainable market because people that age usually don't have a big mortgage and have reached the top of their earning potential.

However, direct marketing agency Target Direct, which funds ongoing research into the attitudes of the over-50s, points out that not all older people are able to donate regularly. "They have their own financial pressures such as worrying about care costs and the value of their pension," said Paul Farthing, managing director at Target Direct. "One in three retired people live on less than £10,000 per year, so you need to strike a balance."

- Research conducted by BACS, the organisation that administers UK direct debits and direct credits, shows that charities may be wasting their time with celebrity endorsements. The research revealed that just 1 per cent of donors chose to support a charity because their favourite celebrity was its ambassador. Most donors (41 per cent) give to a charity because it deals with an important issue or because it works towards a cause that directly affects them (22 per cent).

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