Embrace, Capitalize On Generations’ Differences

The generational divide is something that nonprofit fundraisers and marketers have to navigate on a daily basis. Gifts from members of older generations still tend to make up the bulk of nonprofits’ revenues, but younger supporters can both serve as valuable advocates and help build pipelines toward the future.

Making matters even tougher is the fact that — like a family at Thanksgiving — various generations tend not to share the same values or find motivation in similar objectives.

Carol Rhine, principle consultant for Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, sought to clarify some of these differences and highlight best means of attracting various generations during her session “Generational Giving: Understanding the Differences” at the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s 2018 Washington Nonprofit Conference. Key differences and suggestions provided during the program included:

  • Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1942). Giving as a part of civic duty tends to resonate with older donors. They are driven by the idea that big institutions bring people together and that membership is somewhat expected. Patriotism also drives this group, they tend to respond well to red, white, and blue color schemes and are motivated by the idea that the organization they support is part of what makes America great;
  • Boomer Generation (born between 1943 and 1960). Boomers are hooked in with nostalgia, romance, and adventure. They look to shape values and the world as they believe it ought to be. They tend to be more interested in public charities as opposed to the local church, give to fewer causes, and respond best to materials with earth tones;
  • Generation X (born between 1961 and 1981). Gen Xers typically give to solve practical problems — to get something done — and they value reliable, unpretentious organizations. Avoid overselling and emphasize pragmatism. Preferred color schemes lean toward acrylic;
  • Millennials (born between 1982 and 2004). Millennials have a tribe mentality. They seek approval and rely on peers and value peer opinions over experts (see: Yelp). Millennials look for brands that represent their values; and,
  • Founder Generation (born since 2005). The mobile world is the only environment Founders know. They are maturing fast, are used to living in volatile and uncertain times, and will grow up with an aging global population.