Shifting demographics an important trend for nonprofits

Nonprofits need to be ready for changes to the makeup of the donor base that supports them. An increased focus on technology and the emergence of new donors are two factors that deserve serious consideration by nonprofit groups.

Demographic changes are happening quickly in the U.S., according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The newest generation to hit adulthood and hold down jobs looks at charitable giving differently than its forebears. Younger donors are less likely to have strong ties to specific charities and want to see results from the money they donate. Increasing engagement with new contributors by using online donation services, sharing the results of donations through email and on social media as well as providing more specific details about what each individual donor's money is doing will help nonprofits keep up.

Many young people are keenly tuned into Internet-based transactions, so pointing out the security of online contributions made using debit or credit cards can encourage donations.

"Charities that don't recognize demographic trends are going to shrink and ultimately go out of business," Emmett Carson, president of the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation, told The Chronicle.

Relevant messaging is key for young and old donors alike. Nonprofit Marketing Guide suggests using the six "R"s - realistic, rewarding, responsive, revealing, real time and refreshing - to make messaging useful and effective. For the newest generation of donors, real time and responsive will be two components for nonprofits to focus on.

Baby boomers are still active in giving and account for more charitable contributions than any other generation in the U.S. Nonprofits have to focus on being relevant to the younger, more technology-focused generation and baby boomers. The most generous generation is reaching an age when its members begin to better organize charitable efforts, so campaigns involving bequests and planned giving may be especially salient.

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