Garnering donations among different generations

No two people are alike. Add a giant age gap, and nonprofits are tasked with appealing to a multitude of personality types. Between millennials, Generation X and baby boomers, their preferences differ on many contribution facets, such as how often they want to be contacted, which medium of communication to use and what constitutes as being engaged in a cause, among others. To reach a wider base of benefactors, philanthropic organizations need to appeal to all age groups. Find out more about each generation to develop a strategy that targets multiple audiences:

Millennials
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the millennial generation is comprised of those born between 1980 and 1999, making them the youngest donor age group. An online survey, "The Next Generation of American Giving," revealed that 60 percent of this generation weighs the ability to see directly where their contributions are going as an important factor on their decision to give. Additionally, according to another donor engagement study, millennials view volunteering as the most influential way to feel absorbed in a cause. Participating in community service gives this generation the opportunity that they seek: to see the direct result of their efforts. Nonprofits can benefit from the generational trait by turning their volunteers into donors. Tap into their tech-savvy skills with an online donation form.

Generation X
The percentage of people who desire to see the effects of their financial contributions is divided directly in half for Generation X, so the same volunteer-to-donor conversion strategy for millennials may work on this age group. However, there are also more influential ways philanthropic organizations can garner contributions from Gen Xers. According to the donor engagement study that revealed the volunteer insight about millennials, this age group demonstrated the highest preferences for radio and TV ads, with 87 percent favoring this method of communication.

Falling between the ages of 33 and 47, many members of this generation have been swept up in the social media storm. However, nonprofits should take a step back from using Twitter and Facebook to garner support. The donor engagement study revealed that philanthropic organizations were using social websites much more than any age group preferred.

Baby boomers
Born between 1946 and 1964, 13 percent of these older adults reported they were likely to donate through crowdfunding, and only 6 percent have actually done it, according to "The Next Generation of American Giving" study. In fact, many don't even know what it is. Therefore, charities should turn to a different medium of contribution for this age group than just accepting donations online.

Trust is the key to capturing their hearts. Dennis McCarthy, a coauthor of the "The Next Generation of American Giving" study, explains that this age group frequently contributes to reputable charities, such as the American Cancer Association and the World Wildlife Fund, along with churches they've been involved with for many years and local organizations. By building up their integrity and credibility, nonprofits can reach out to these major givers.

Though their preferences differ, all age groups have one thing in common: They want to make a positive difference. By reaching out to all generations, nonprofits can effectively help their cause.

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