Report says charities miss out on older people's donations because 'they focus too much on the young'

UK charities are 'looking a gift horse in the mouth' by not considering the potential of donors born in 1964 or earlier, according to a new study

Time for UK Fundraising to Look Up
Time for UK Fundraising to Look Up

Charities are missing out on "potentially lucrative" donations from older people because they are focusing too many of their fundraising activities on young people, a new report warns.

Time for UK Fundraising to Look Up, published this week by the agencies Xtraordinary Fundraising and Forster Communications, and the software firm Blackbaud, is based on interviews with 1,500 people in the UK who had made a charitable donation in the past year.

"UK charities are potentially looking a gift horse in the mouth by not considering the full potential of older donors," it says.

"The thinking around the law of diminishing returns with this age range is out of date – this audience can be regular supporters of charities they are engaged with for many years, many of them have high disposable income levels and they are a key audience to consider in all legacy fundraising."

It says that charities that want to engage more effectively with older donors – which the report defines as those born in 1964 or earlier – must look beyond the traditional methods, such as direct mail.

"These people are shopping and consuming online and through their smartphones, and charities that crack these as successful engagement points are likely to reap the benefits," it says.

It says that the top three causes that older donors prefer to give to are health, children and animal welfare.

"Some UK charities are missing out on a potentially lucrative source of funding by not looking up at older donors as well as looking down towards younger ones," the report says.

Peter Gilheany, director of Forster, said: "Businesses are only just waking up to older people as a lucrative consumer audience, but many charities already have close relationships with them as donors. Those relationships could be a lot deeper and more numerous if charities invest more in integrated approaches to this audience."

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