Aging Donor Base? Here’s What To Do About It

4 min read

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, baby boomers account for 41 percent of charitable giving. And as this demographic gets older, many organizations are worried about seeing a significant portion of their donor base dwindle. Does this sound familiar?

Instead of focusing on what you may lose, start thinking about how to better communicate with an emerging, younger donor set. Here’s how you can begin building a new donor acquisition plan now, in time for 2019 campaign planning.

Audit your current, potentially aging donor base

Before making any hypotheses about what a newer, younger donor set may look like, audit some of your current donors and identify patterns among them. Use prospecting research tools, like ResearchPoint, WealthEngine, or DonorSearch or simply investigate a sample of your donors’ social media profiles.

First, identify trends in their basic demographics such as age, whether or not they’re married, their gender and where they live. Also, consider their past political philanthropic donations or social media posts to identify their political leaning and other issues they care about. Then, look for patterns in how these attributes correlate with how much and how often they give to your organization.

You may also want to examine trends among donors who give to similar organizations to yours, or of other organizations that your larger donors give to. Use your prospecting research tool like ResearchPoint or WealthEngine to examine whether their donor bases are similar to or different from yours. If they show similarities, you can begin to form a hypothesis of what types of younger donors you should aim to target in the future.

Find patterns among younger outliers

When confronted with an aging donor base, your immediate instinct may be to target a much younger donor set like millennials or members of the Gen Z generation. It’s likely, however, that your “younger” donors are actually just younger members of the Baby Boomer generation (Did you know the youngest Baby Boomers are in their early 50s?) or part of the Gen X generation.

Your current donor research should confirm this hypothesis. If you’re noticing there’s a pocket of individuals slightly younger than your oldest donors, you should start looking for patterns among them specifically. Are they more left-leaning politically than your aging donor base? Do they tend to give to organizations that focus on a particular issue area? You may find there are multiple pockets of these younger donors that have their own different patterns, and that’s okay. It’s good to have a variety of groups to target.

If you’re noticing there’s a pocket of individuals slightly younger than your oldest donors, start looking for patterns among them specifically. Click To Tweet

Once you identify patterns in your younger outliers, put together three to five donor profiles of members of this younger donor set so you can categorize them and begin thinking about how to communicate with them.

Communicate with younger donors where they are

Younger donors and your aging donor base likely respond to messaging and modes of communication differently. For example, they may not respond to direct mail campaigns as strongly as your oldest donors, and they may be more active on social media and responsive to emails. Broadening your focus to include younger donors means there are more places to reach them, particularly online.

Younger donors and your aging donor base likely respond to messaging and modes of communication differently. Click To Tweet

For your fundraising campaign in 2019, try to communicate with younger potential donors in new ways, like:

  • Using a lead acquisition ad campaign on Facebook, where you can target demographics based on your younger donor profiles and collect their contact information
  • Setting up retargeting ads using Google Ads or Facebook ads to re-engage contacts who have already visited your fundraising or donation page
  • Creating downloadable content for potential donors to engage with and including it in your emails and social media posts

Recognizing an older donor base may also mean re-shaping an outdated fundraising and marketing approach.

With new, younger donors entering the scene, it’s time to think about what they care about when donating to a nonprofit organization, and how you can leverage marketing and communications to keep up. Download Nonprofit Brand 2.0 – Understanding the New Nonprofit Brand Paradigm to get a better understanding of whether your organization is ready for the future.

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