Monday, August 17, 2009

Stop focusing all your efforts on finding "younger" donors

If I had a dollar for every time a fundraiser said to me “We are trying to recruit younger donors”, I wouldn’t be blogging here right now.

My response to this is the same always: why?

Charities are always looking to recruit "younger" donors because they think that’s what they should be doing. Wrong.

Mostly because they hear, are told, or are in fact seeing that traditional recruitment methods (I.e. direct mail) don’t work as they once did.

So the obvious response is, we need to find channels that “younger” people responsd to.

In fact charities should also be spending time looking for better ways to recruit “older donors”.

Before I move on, I’m taking a pretty broad brush here. My definition of “younger” is pretty loose, let’s say under 35 years old. By “older” I’m talking 60 and upwards. Not a science but works for the point of this blog.


Because “older” donors give much, much more and are statistically more likely to stay with you. Fact.

Let me prove it to you.

I undertook some data analysis with a client recently, and looked at the key drivers of attrition across their file.

For every channel we looked at we were able to determine that “younger’ constituents were more likely, in some cases two to three times more likely to cancel their giving than “older” donors. And when you translate that into income, both long and short term that meant “older” donors were giving far, far more.

This is consistent with all of the work we have done with our clients at Pareto Fundraising, in each country we have looked at this in, across varying types of organizations.

The message is always the same.

“Younger” donors stay on for shorter periods of time and hence give less. The reasons are pretty simple, “younger” donors are at a different life stage. Less disposable income, more transient, more likely to have a mortgage, possibly with young children. Bottom line, less income to give away to charity.

So what?

Well, reaching out to find “younger” supporters isn’t necessarily the silver bullet. Finding better ways to attract and engage older constituents is. I’m not suggesting don’t recruit “younger” donors at all, far from it.

What I am saying is get the balance right. And when you do reach out to younger constituents, please, please, please talk to them differently. I’ll save that for another blog though.


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