The changing of the guard is as old as time. It can be a bumpy road if you don’t plan for it. The older donor generations can feel pushed out of the very causes they helped launch. Meanwhile, the younger generations cry out for change and inclusion. How do you reach across the generations and bring everyone to the table?
Compare the four primary generations of donors—Mature, Boomer, Gen X, Millennial—and you’ll see there’s more that unites us than divides us. Research scientist Jennifer Deal observed similarities in her book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young and Old Can Find Common Ground. She found that all generations:
- Value family, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness.
- Want respect.
- Believe leaders must be trustworthy.
- Like to receive feedback.
- Don’t like change.
- Base loyalty on context, not age.
- Want to learn and better ourselves.
In “How to Engage Multiple Generations of Donors,” we explore additional generational insights on giving activity, volunteer rates, tech use, and communication preferences. Incorporate these findings into your donor engagement to create lasting relationships.
Generational Communication Tips
Your donor’s preferred method of communication doesn’t always depend on their age. Gen X may prefer email and Boomers may prefer a phone call, but they both enjoy receiving a thank you card in the mail. Ask your donors how they prefer to be contacted, record that information in your fundraising software, and use it to create a deeper level of engagement.
Matures respect authority and respond to tradition and long-term commitment. Highlight your organization’s history and your position as a leader in your field.
Boomers are dedicated, hard-working, goal-oriented individuals. They expect quality services and treatment. Put your nonprofit’s work—and your results—front and center. Inspire them with your story and your mission.
Gen X donors risk being overlooked in favor of their Boomer and Millennial counterparts. Pay special attention to them today. As they enter the peak years of their careers, many Gen Xers are looking for proactive ways to support organizations they believe in.
Millennials are drawn to transparency and access. As donors, they’re interested in more than just their name on a donor list. They want to contribute in different ways. Incorporate more targeted contact and engagement as part of cultivating this generation of donors. Bring them into your work on a deeper level.
Never before has there been such a wide array of communication options. From the classic approach of direct mail to the modern invention of instant messaging, each generation has their preference. Use your donor data to create engagement that bridges the generation gap once and for all.
Check out our infographic, Bridging The Donor Generation Gap, for more information on generational giving!