Generous Generations

Generous Generations

Here’s an interesting study (by non-profit consultants Convio)  on how the different U.S. generations are doling out money to charity.  Turns out that everybody is still pretty generous in their giving (recession or no recession), but that not all charities are doing a good job in reaching the people that might write the checks. Actually, not all people give by writing checks when they give, which is part of the problem.

Let’s start with who is doing the giving.  According to the study, 64 percent of the total U.S. population are ‘donors’.  By generation, the ‘Matures” (aged 65+) are most likely to give and give the most, but there isn’t as much of a gap as you might think.  More than half of all Gen Ys (18 to 29) are donors too, and although they give only about a third of what the matures do, they are a hefty enough group in terms of population that they are making their charitable preferences felt. The graph below sums things up (it was generated by me, using the Convio data).

As the study also notes, it also stands to reason that those generous Gen Ys will keep giving as they age, so it stands to reason that they are important, as of course are Xers and Boomers (who in absolute terms actually give the most, because they represent such large chunks of the U.S. population).

So what you need to keep everyone happy and giving and generous is a bunch of different strategies, targeted to each generation. Easier said than done, unfortunately. Although the hipper charities are trying to connect by mobile or Facebook or whatever, sending information by mail – that’s snail mail – is still a popular option. Even for those who still open those unsolicited pieces of junk that make it into the house, nobody–of any age–is too keen on writing a check until they log into the relevant website. 

And on that check thing – not so much for the younger generations. When you can give online (or at a retail store cash register), it is just not that effective channel for giving. 

The goods news is that there is still money being given – and the smartest non-profits will be the ones who invest the time to figure out just who has it and how they need to be approached to part with it.

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