The following is an excerpt from Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits.
Each generation living today has come of age with profoundly different experiences concerning mass communication and these differences directly impact how they give to nonprofits. Seniors who came age during the era of print media still prefer print communications and charitable giving. The same is mostly true of baby boomers, however, they are young enough to be experiencing the rise of new media in their daily lives which consequently is impacting their life-long giving habits. Gen X and gen Y both came of age during the rise mass Internet communications and increasingly shun print communications and fundraising while adapting quickly to new trends in mobile and social giving. And gen Y who will come of age in a post-print era will be connecting to causes and giving to nonprofits through technologies that haven’t been invented yet. Due the rapid speed of technological advancement, from this point forward nonprofits will have to embrace multiple communications and fundraising tools if they want to reach donors and supporters of all ages.
Generation Z (Born 2001–Present, Currently Ages 13 and Younger)
Generation Z is being born into digital technology and will be highly connected throughout their lifetime. This future generation of donors will come of age using tablets and smartphones, smart TV, mobile and social media, and technologies not yet invented. Currently, more than 50 percent of children ages 0–8 spend an average of 43 minutes daily on smartphones and tablets watching videos, reading, and playing games. As the sales of smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs continue to rise, these numbers will continue to grow, representing a trend that will define a generation. While generation Z is not yet influential on your fundraising campaigns, nonprofits that work in education, child services, and youth empowerment should be laying a foundation now for future outreach.
Millennials (Born 1980–2000, Currently Ages 14–34)
The millennial generation consists of 76 million Americans who are tech savvy, well-informed, and results-driven. Eighty-three percent of millennials ages 18–29 use social networking sites on a regular basis as do 73 percent of teens. Millennials greatly prefer smartphones over any other device and send an average of 20 text messages per day. Eighty-three percent of millennials donate to charity with 84 percent of those donations being made online (58 percent of the donations are $100 or less), and a whopping 91 percent of millennials review a nonprofit’s website before making a donation. They are also more likely to donate to a nonprofit directly from a social networking site or through text than any other generation. However, the millennial generation doesn’t consider technology to be a panacea for living the good life. Milliennials also value privacy and time away from mobile and social media, reading print copies of books, and regularly visit libraries.
Generation X (Born 1965–1979, Currently Ages 35–49)
Generation X gives twice as much as to charity as millennials do, but as millennials mature in their career and accumulate wealth, these two generations will be very similar in their giving habits. Made up of 46 million Americans who donate approximately 20 percent of all giving in the United States, this generation came of age when websites and e-mail were breakthroughs in nonprofit technology, and they have had a love affair with the Internet ever since. As the generation that also pioneered blogging, generation Xers have adapted well to the rise of mobile and social media. Seventy-seven percent use social networking sites and they are more likely to own a tablet than any other generation. Those born into generation X came of age writing and mailing checks to nonprofits, but they now overwhelmingly prefer donating online in amounts ranging from $100 to $499 annually.
Baby Boomers (Born 1946 –1964, Currently Ages 50–68)
The baby boomer generation is often underestimated in its technology skills. While print readership is highest among boomers, in recent years they have adopted mobile and social media at a rapid rate. On average, boomers spend 19 hours a week online, and 71 percent use a social networking site daily with Facebook being the most popular. Thirty-six percent of boomers ages 50 and over own a smartphone, and 32 percent own a tablet. When you combine these data with the fact that boomers control 70 percent of disposable income in the United States and spend nearly $7 billion per year online on consumer purchases, it is a huge mistake to believe the stereotype that boomers aren’t giving online. Fifty-four percent of boomer donors still mail checks to nonprofits, but the boomers are the most generous of all generations, donating more than $47 billion annually. They are also the generation that has been driving the rapid growth in online fundraising in recent years. In 2012, 58 percent of boomers donated online compared to 44 percent in 2010.
Silent Generation (Born 1925–1945, Currently Age 69 and Older)
Many members of the silent generations were born during the Great Depression and World War II. In 1951 TIME magazine published an article that defined the silent generation as grave and fatalistic, stating: “Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence.” This generation, however, is silent no longer. Those 74 and older are the fastest-growing demographic among social network users, with seniors accounting for 11 percent of all Facebook users. To stay in touch with friends and family, 18 percent of senior citizens own a smartphone or tablet, and high-speed Wifi is being installed in assisted living facilities and nursing homes nationwide. However, print communications are still essential for donor outreach to the silent generation. Seventy-seven percent prefer to mail checks to nonprofits, but it is worth noting that the percent of those aged 65 and older donating online jumped to 36 percent in 2012, up from 29 percent in 2010.
Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits
Based on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilizing mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising are now mobile and social, Mobile for Good is a step-by-step how-to guide for writing, implementing, and maintaining a mobile and social fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.