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The way to engage with donors is constantly changing. One minute they want charts, graphs, and numbers, and the next minute they want personal stories from the field. One day calling donors on their landline is a great idea, and a few years later you're told that mode of communication is outdated and ineffective.

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It's very important that charities stay on top of donor trends in order to better communicate with their donors.

Here are three donor trends for 2015, and strategies for how charities can respond:

1. Gen X is an increasingly bigger contributor to charities.

Every year, Gen Xers make up a bigger and bigger piece of the donor pie. They truly are the future of charitable giving. Blackbaud reports Gen X makes up 23% of total giving in Canada. The research organization also says, "Civics (+69 years old), who dominated the giving landscape for decades, are declining in overall philanthropic influence and being overtaken quickly by Gen X" (Blackbaud, 2013).



Gen Xers don't want abstract thinking, lengthy annual reports and country overviews. This generation wants personal stories. Along with Baby Boomers, Gen Xers today respond best to personal accounts of achieving a better life.

So what's the strategy?

When sending out monthly/annual updates, non-profit organizations could use this as an opportunity for story-telling. Rather than just listing statistics, let's shift our organizations to the art of personal stories and interconnectivity. An NPO's newsletter could share an uplifting story that demonstrates how a project has had a positive impact on a recipient's life, pictures from volunteers who gave their time to participate in a project, and better yet, feature the specific words of these people involved in the project.

Gen Xers are the future of giving, so in order to reach them, non-profits can make small changes to adjust their communication and marketing tactics to better attract this up and coming generation.

 

2. Women are more likely to donate than men.

gender male femaleIn a study conducted by the Women's Philanthropy Institute of Indiana, it was found that females (who are the heads of their households) are more likely than men to give money to a charity in all income brackets (Huffington Post, 2012). Women also "give a whopping 89% more of their income to charity than men". Even more impressive, in 2006, "61% of women and 53% of men gave each month," (Piper & Schnepf, 2007).

The data clearly shows us that women are more likely to donate to charity, regardless of how deep their bank account is. So it's crucial for non-profits to understand what female donors are looking for in a charity. We need to understand what kind of projects are they attracted to and with which causes do they identify most.

Charities also need to learn how to nurture a positive and grateful relationship with female donors. To do this, NPOs can demonstrate their appreciation through personalized communication that clearly outlines all the great things the donor's contribution has helped to achieve.

3. The largest overall percentage of donors is Baby Boomers.

In today's world the baby boomer generation makes up the largest piece of the charitable pie. A study by Blackbaud compared "Baby Boomers" (ages 50-68) to "Matures" (69+), "Gen X" (34-49) and "Gen Y" (19-33) and the charitable presence of each generation. The study showed that baby boomers make up a 34% of the Canadian donor base, which is important to know!

Did you know that Baby Boomers are also "the largest contributors, giving an estimated total of $61.9 billion per year"? (Forbes, 2013) So, even though baby boomers make up only 34% of the donor population, they are responsible for 43% of all contributions.

Non-profits need to know what makes baby boomers tick, and what kind of communication they respond best to today. And that communications is online marketing and communication. More and more baby boomers now donate online and read online journals. Though not all the "Civics" are turning to technology, more and more are. Baby boomers definitely are! It's time for organizations to scale back on talking "at" the donor. Instead, let's utilize the mediums we have at our fingertips to talk "with" the donor.

Powering the world to do well by doing good.