Six Inter-Generational Fundraising Tips

Identifying and appealing to the unique sensitivities and behavioral trends of donors in different generational groups has long been a challenge for the nonprofit fundraiser. The proliferation of new communication channels and rapid evolution of digital technologies have made interpreting the generational landscape more confusing.

Here are six fundraising tips to help incorporate generational giving principles into your organization’s fundraising strategy.

Collect Donor Birthdays: Understanding generational differences and messaging uniquely by age bracket is critical to fundraising success. Prioritize donor information, especially information that will allow you to segment by generation. The more you know about your donors, including into which generational bracket they fall, the greater your ability to appeal to the topics and sensitivities that drive engagement and donations.

Ask Donors What They Want: Understanding how constituents view your organization is critical, as it provides key insights into how we can engage them in our mission. The more organizations invest in finding ways to deliver the information and engagement opportunities constituents want, the more money and commitment they will derive from those relationships.

Facilitate Peer-To-Peer Fundraising: Peer-to-peer fundraising represents a big opportunity to reach all donors, but Generations X and Y are particularly receptive to this channel. Even if your organization doesn’t have a formal event program, you can still get into the peer-to-peer game through do-it-yourself (DIY) fundraising programs. DIY fundraising allows anyone to raise money on an organization’s behalf while incorporating the value of crowdsourcing and personal networks.

Eliminate Barriers: It’s a tall order, one that will take a lot of time, and in all likelihood cause no small amount of organization frustration, but eliminating internal barriers to cross-functional marketing and communication efforts will help organizations better realize multigenerational engagement. Be prepared for shifts in the kind of organizational transparency younger donors expect, and think about how every side of the organization can contribute to a new model of information sharing.

Target By Channel: It’s a multichannel world and every generational group engages in each channel. Consider what asks are appropriate for each channel and to what group. Ask donors for feedback on what information they want and how well they think your organization is serving its mission. This will provide valuable information about who your constituents are, the generational groups to which they belong, and how to build stronger relationships with each group.

Build Your Sustainer Program: Sustainer donation programs are gaining traction across the nonprofit space. According to Blackbaud’s Online Marketing Benchmark Study for Nonprofits, the total value of sustainer donations increased 27 percent in 2012. Tailoring the ask to those constituents most likely to support an already growing trend will help improve fundraising performance and build confidence that your organization understands the unique needs of each audience.


Andrew Shoaff is interactive strategy manager at Blackbaud, Charleston, S.C.