Generational giving, especially anything that relates to millennial or Gen Z, is all the rage.
And it’s not a new phenomenon, either. Younger donors (regardless of what that younger generation is called at the time) is a topic that nonprofit leaders and fundraisers have been talking about for a while.
“Does each generation donate to nonprofits differently?”
“How do we engage millennial donors without alienating GenX or Boomers?”
“What in the world are we going to do about Gen Z?”
Giving USA recently published a study looking at generational giving. And what they found was interesting—and in some cases surprising.
Here are our top 4 takeaways from the report:
- Millennial giving is increasing. In fact, millennial giving surpassed Gen X and Boomers. Giving from that generation has gone up 40% since 2016. But that doesn’t mean that Xers and Boomers aren’t giving. They still are, just at a slightly lower rate than Millennials.
- Digital giving is up—for pretty much everyone. During the pandemic, even grandparents figured out QR codes (and thank you, Apple for finally putting a QR code scanner in the camera). And that comfort with reading a dinner menu via the phone led to comfort with giving via that small square. All around, whether it’s through QR codes, emails, or websites, online giving has increased. Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with technology, so it shouldn’t be a surprise they like giving online. As more and more people in the Boomer and Gex X adopt technology and become comfortable with smart phones, they are using them to give online, too.
- Digital platforms must be mobile–optimized. As online giving increases, people expect websites and emails to look good and perform well on their phones or devices. They aren’t just using desktop computers anymore. They’re using smart phones and tablets. In 2016 about 25% people reported giving via their phones. But in 2022, 38% did. Talking about mobile giving might not sound groundbreaking or “new” to you. Frankly, it doesn’t to us either. But, just when we think mobile optimization isn’t a thing to harp on anymore, someone on the Oneicity team runs into a website that is barely functional on a phone. So, I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but: Make sure your website and emails are optimized.
- But direct mail (STILL) isn’t dead. We know people have been saying direct mail is on its deathbed for the last twenty years. And eventually that prediction will come true. But, this report shows that it won’t happen for a while—and it is further data on what Oneicity clients are seeing. In fact, millennials really want direct mail: 64% of millennials said they wanted monthly direct mail from a nonprofit. Not just some mail from organizations…but monthly mail. Direct mail should still be a vital part of a nonprofit’s fundraising and communication. Yes, digital giving is up. But if you’re thinking about younger donors, millennials are just as likely to give online as they are direct mail.
It means that it’s more important than ever that you don’t try to pigeonhole your donors into a digital or direct mail box. Donors don’t know they’re a digital donor or a mail donor. In their mind, they’re just a donor. If that’s how they think of themselves, that’s how your organization should think of them.
Both direct mail and digital strategies work together to communicate with, validate, and cultivate your donors. Integrating your digital and direct mail campaigns will deepen the relationship they have with you, and maximize the benefits.
Just like the regular predictions about the death of direct mail, this won’t be the last study looking at the differences of generational giving. But if you’ve been looking for information, then this report is a good place to start.
And after you’ve read our takeaways and checked out the report for yourself, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments you have about generational giving. As a multigenerational agency, there is always an opinion about generations flying around.