Five Keys To Raising More Money

In Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving Report is a 33 page detailed study on the generational fundraising landscape in America. What is important about this study is that it shows the data behind a fundamental principle in fundraising – That donors drive your organization. To help you digest the wealth of information, I have refined 5 keys from the report to help you raise more money. Hopefully this will help you understand the fundraising landscape, and consider how you’re connecting with the hearts of your donors.


1. Know your donors, especially their birthdays! Segmenting your lists is very important. Such as knowing how they’re connected to your cause, giving status, channel responsiveness, and the most important…their birthday! Knowing a constituents birthday will help you segment your supporters into a generation pool. Also sending a birthday card simply shows that you care. Focus on the generation group that are your biggest donors but also don’t ignore Baby Boomers. The report shows that Baby Boomers are the largest donor group, representing 43% percent of total giving. So segment and target Baby Boomers for a monthly giving program. They dominate for those who say they make monthly donations to a cause or charity. Blackbaud states that “Most monthly donors cite convenience as the main reason for regular giving. This may be the key to why Boomers make up the highest percentage of donations through monthly programs at 21%. Sandwiched between caring for aging parents and raising children, they may see automated monthly giving as a way to free up more time.”


2. Put direct mail at the center of your fundraising plan. Email appeals may seem like the most convenient, economical, and common sense approach to fundraising but it comes in third as an acceptable appeal method by all generations with a response rate of only 15% while direct mail responses across generations averaged at 32%, with Baby Boomers and Matures bolstering responses at 40% and 52%. Blackbaud states that “Direct mail professionals argue that younger donors will eventually “age into” direct mail responsiveness.” In fact a majority of generation X and generation Y donors say that direct mail is a very acceptable appeal method and an important way for charities to keep in touch, more so than emails (15%), phone calls (11%) and social media (6%). With the vastly changing information landscape it may be increasingly difficult to measure just one appeal method to a giving channel, especially with generations Y, X, and Baby Boomers trending towards preferring to give online but also preferring to receive appeal messages through the mail. So try to think of your fundraising plan as an integrated approach since giving preferences and appeal channels are not necessarily lining up with each other.


3. Workplace giving is a viable fundraising venue. Consider leveraging your business partnerships with a workplace giving program. The report shows that workplace giving is “Nearly 60 percent of Generation Y … 53 percent of Generation X … 46 percent of working Boomers and…. 22 percent of working Matures.” Generation X and Generation Y love to organize sponsored work fundraisers such as walkathons, fun runs, and cycling races. Blackbaud states that “Boomers, on the other hand, are most likely to say they give via payroll deduction. Nearly one-quarter of Boomers say they have done so in the past 12 months, compared with 21 percent of Gen X and 15 percent of Gen Y. Participation in match programs (where one’s employer matches one’s gift) is very low. Roughly 10 percent of Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y have their donations matched by their employers.”


4. Multi Channel Content is King. Who ever can tell their story the best and through multiple channels will win hearts and minds. Plan a coordinated storyline and engagement plan across media channels. The story needs to be congruently told through all channels. Here are the top channels in order of how respondents like to keep in touch across generations:


Your story needs to be told uniquely to targeted audiences in the way they like to receive messages. Finding ways to survey constituents to see what channels they prefer and to get feedback and comments to your messages is important to building favor and engaging people for a potential giving response. Something to keep in mind is that this strategy is not an appeal strategy. This is an engagement strategy which communicates your story and is crucial to building momentum torward your fundraising appeals.


5. Peer-to-Peer fundraising is on the rise. In fact the Blackbaud survey shows that the most acceptable appeal channels in order are:

1. Friends & Family (Peer-to-Peer)

2. Letter/Message

3. Email


Third party fundraising is a development strategy worth investing in and now easier to facilitate than ever before. This is the act of letting anyone fundraise for your cause by leveraging their personal networks. There are online peer-to-peer applications, crowdsourcing websites, and events that should be looked at and implemented into your strategy. Generation X and Generation Y comprise 31% of the the donor pool who love to share with their peers and don’t mind asking their friends and family to support their cause.


Help yourself out by taking some time to analyze your donor base, understand your constituents, and tailor a plan that extends your reach and relationship across generations without leaving your current followers behind. Most importantly try to keep in mind that behind all the data, emails, and social profiles are human beings who are waiting for you to reach out and touch them.

The graphics, information, and commentary in this post are drawn from Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving report.