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Joanne Oppelt

About Joanne

Developing Fundraising Campaigns that Work

Creating Effective Donor Communications

To effectively communicate with donors, you need to engage them first. Engaging them means creating a communications plan that develops relationships. Two-way relationships. It’s not only you talking to them, but it’s them talking to you too. And it’s not only them giving to you, it’s you giving to them too. It’s a relationship. It’s a two-way street. To be a successful relationship, each party will give and get something as a result of the interaction. You want them to listen and respond to your request. If you want them to listen to you, you need to listen to them. If you want them to respond to you, then you respond to them. If you want them to meet your needs, you must meet theirs.

Effective Donor Communications Plan Step One: Know Your Donors

Know your donors inside and out. Know their needs, values, and preferences. Know their motivations for giving. Know why they would welcome a communication from you. It is not about you and what you need. It is not about why you think you’re great or how their gift will help your organization. It’s about them fulfilling their needs and values in ways that they find satisfying. Frame your donor communications using their perspectives and interests. Get their attention in ways they are most likely to pay attention to and understand. Make it easy for them to notice you. Catch their attention by presenting concepts and images in ways that speak to them most strongly.

If you want to know your donors as a group, do your research. Go to the census bureau and get demographic data. Visit the Center for Generational Kinetics to find the global preferences of your different age cohorts. Look at the Giving USA, Charity Navigator and Blackbaud Institute donor studies to see who’s giving what to what. Google “communication trends” and read any number of articles about who likes to communicate how.

For specific donor information, keep good records when you interact with your donors. And review them regularly. Record keeping is a must if you want to develop long-term relationships that show your donors you hear them and care enough to know and remember what they have to say.

Effective Donor Communications Plan Step Two: Get Their Attention

For donors to even notice you, you need to send them messages using communication channels they are most comfortable with. That means that you probably will not text a donor in his or her 80’s or send a direct mail piece to someone in their 20’s. Meet them on their turf. Find out, if you don’t know, who likes letters, voice mails, emails, social media posts and/or texts. Start the donor relationship sending the message, “Your preferences are important to me.”

When you communicate, remember that you should not promote how great your organization is or how much your organization needs the money. Donors are more interested in mission and impact than they are organizational operations. Instead of talking about how their money helps you, address their interests, values and needs. For example, there’s a big difference between saying, “Last year demand for my organization’s services grew 47 percent” or “Last year my organization fed 5,000 people” to saying something like “When was the last time you were hungry? How did it affect you?” Which one grabs more of your attention?

If you want donors to read your message, make it about them. Make it relatable. Make it emotionally appealing. Talk about them. The content is about they can make an impact that is meaningful to them, not you or your organization.

If you’re not sure what their interests, values and needs are, ask them. You can survey your donors and ask for opinions. You can do it formally or informally. You can ask in person or you can have a questionnaire. You can ask a large group or you can ask a few influencers. There are numerous ways to conduct donor research. Just make sure that whatever response group you use is a representative group. And remember that for every group characteristic, there are individual exceptions.

And remember to record everything in your donor database.

Effective Donor Communications Plan Step Three: Make it Personal

When you communicate with donors, do it in the second person. Make your message personally relatable. Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ liberally. Talk about what you (the donor) can accomplish, the impact you (the donor) are making. Make your donors the center of your mission fulfillment success. Let them know how important they are to mission success. Make them feel like they are the most important people in the world in making the world a better place. In this way, you validate them and acknowledge them. And meet some of their primary emotional needs: the needs to contribute to something bigger than themselves and doing something of worth. And they will find the interaction with you satisfying thus more likely to continue, and maybe strengthen, the donor relationship.

Effective Donor Communications Plan Step Four: Have a Call to Action 

Now that you have their attention, engage your donors. Make your donor communications two-way interactions and give donors a way to respond to you. Which means when you send them messages, using channels they are most comfortable with, you need to incorporate ways for them to respond to you. Ask them to do something. They can visit their legislators, vote, volunteer, sign up for an event, attend an event, invite a friend, donate money, contact you, fill out a survey, forward a message, and so on. Give them ways to make an impact on an issue they care about. Engage donors in your mission. Build those relationships.

Be clear — very, very clear — in your call to action. Be direct and be specific. And give a deadline.

Effective Donor Communication Plan Step Five: Engage Them

When they respond to your request, respond back.

Let them know you know and appreciate what they did. Acknowledge and validate them again. Meet their emotional needs again. Build that strong donor relationship. Thank them. Give them feedback on the results of their actions. Let them feel like they are crucial to mission impact, again.

Then engage them some more. Send them another call to action. Create an ongoing positive cycle of donor engagement and mission fulfillment. Watch those engaged donors stick around. And watch the gifts from engaged donors increase in size. With increased donor retention and larger average gifts, your financial results will improve. Which will be poured into mission and increase mission fulfillment. Which you report back to your donors, making them the heroes. And you validate them again. And so on.

Effective Donor Communications Plan Step Six: Communicate Timely and Often

How often should you communicate with donors? Well, anytime you have a request to do something and anytime they have responded to those requests. And mix up your requests. Don’t make all your requests about donating money. You can send a survey. You can ask for feedback. You can get opinions. There’s lots of things you can ask your donors to do that don’t involve money.

When you make the call to action, give a deadline and respond immediately after that with an update. If you have asked them to contact you, call them back within 24 hours. If you have asked them to donate, they need to be thanked with 48 hours of you receiving their donation. Believe me, most nonprofits don’t do this. If you thank your donors within 48 hours of making a donation, you will catch their attention just because it’s not the norm. If you have asked them to fill out a survey, let them know you have their feedback and are compiling results as soon as the survey ends. Then let them know when you’re going to release the results. And then let them know the survey results. If you have asked them to visit their legislators or vote or advocate in some other way, send the periodic updates on where in the legislative process the issue stands. If you asked them to volunteer, sign up for an event, attend an event or invite a friend, give them updates on attendance. Integrated into how that translates into greater community impact, of course.

As every fundraiser knows, donors are a set of very diverse of people. Applying different communication and fundraising techniques to reach different donor groups produces better campaign results. One of the easiest ways to create successful fundraising campaigns is to group donors by age, or generational cohorts.

Effective Fundraising Techniques for Reaching Different Generational Donors

Different fundraising techniques appeal to some generational cohorts more than others. Segmenting your donors into age groups, researching those age cohorts and using the information to then develop specific fundraising techniques that appeal to each separate generational group can drastically improve your fundraising results. Today, specific techniques you can use to shape your fundraising campaign so you can achieve the greatest return from your efforts. Specifically, we’re going to talk about how you can best reach Greatest Generation, Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial and Generation Z donors.

Information about different generational cohorts is available at no cost through the census bureau and The Center for Generational Kinetics. Information from these sources can be applied to create effective fundraising techniques that result in implementation of successful fundraising campaigns.

Greatest Generation Donors

Greatest Generation Donor Cohort Characteristics

The Greatest Generation is the oldest generational cohort currently alive, born 1945 and earlier. They lived through the Great Depression and/or World War II, when money was tight and resources to meet everyday needs were rationed. Having to rely on themselves to make up for what was lacking, they became extremely self-sufficient and thrifty. They pride themselves on being able to take care of their own needs and not asking for help. They also tend to scrutinize spending habits and be critical of extravagance and waste.

At present, the Greatest Generation comprises 11.8 of the United States population. However, according to the Charitable Giving in the USA 2019, Greatest Generation members make up 26 percent of the country’s total charitable giving. Fifty-two percent of them donate and 24 percent volunteer. According to “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, top causes for Greatest Generation donors include emergency relief, troops and veterans, the arts, advocacy and election campaigns. Greatest Generation donors give an average of $1,367 a year across 6.2 nonprofits. Seventy-two percent donate in-kind goods and services. Greatest Generation donors prefer voice calls and direct mail; however, 30 percent do donate online. They do not respond to text messaging or follow social media.

Developing Effective Fundraising Campaigns Aimed to Reach Greatest Generation Donors

If you want to communicate with Greatest Generation donors, communicate to them by direct mail or phone. E-mail campaigns are iffy, including email newsletters. Greatest Generation donors probably won’t view an online video either. Don’t even try text messaging or a social media campaign. Don’t expect Greatest Generation donors to follow you or pay attention to what’s happening on social media either. If you find outliers, great! Remember, we’re talking general preferences here. There are always variations within groups.

Because thriftiness is such an important value, Greatest Generation donors may appreciate communications that talk about your agency’s efforts at saving money, say through community partnerships that result in lower organizational costs. Or partnerships that give value to clients above and beyond what your agency does. Because they also value self-sufficiency, Greatest Generation donors may contribute to activities that encourage self-sustainability, either for your service recipients or your organization. Greatest Generation donors are also likely to be interested in receiving periodic financial updates.

Unless they are a current major donor, you are likely to get $250 or less though your fundraising campaigns. You will also probably be one of several nonprofits Greatest Generation donors give to. If you ask for tangible things or in-kind donations, you are likely to get them. For example, a fundraising campaign can contain an appeal for canned goods or gently-used coats or children’s books, to name a few.

Remember too, that Greatest Generation donors are part an aging cohort with probable health and/or mobility issues. If you want older donors to visit your organization or attend an event, make sure the facility is physically accessible. If your facility is not physically accessible, make it a priority. (Do I hear a fundraising campaign in the making?) If you are offering food, make sure that you include food choices that are compatible with older donor dietary needs. This may mean extra lines on that event reply card and extra data input into your donor records, but the added effort is worth the effort. It’s easier to engage a donor who receives the message, “You are important to us. We care about you as a person, not just as a donor.” You get what you give. If you put effort into your meeting donors needs when they interact with you, they are more likely to put effort into continued interactions with you.

Baby Boomer Donors

Baby Boomer Donor Cohort Characteristics

Baby Boomers were born 1946-1964. Their parents fought in World War I, World War II and/or the Korean Conflict. They themselves fought in the Vietnam War, Gulf Wars and wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Baby Boomers were shaped by a world rife with violent conflict. They yearn for communal peace and parity. That longing was made stronger by the intense strife here at home during the Civil Rights Movement and grassroots efforts to end the Vietnam War. Watergate added to the distrust in government authorities, further eroding confidence in the political establishment. The Baby Boomers’ quest is a quest for societal justice, human equity and social harmony.

And they know how to get it. Baby Boomers banded together, demanded civil rights legislation and got it. They also brought an end to the Vietnam War. Baby Boomers believe in the power of community activism to change the world. They also believe in the power of young people to make those changes.

According to the Charitable Giving in the USA 2019, 52 percent of Baby Boomers donate and 25.7 percent volunteer. Baby Boomers represent 23.6 percent of the population and 25 percent of workforce. However, Baby Boomer donors contribute a whopping 43 percent of all charitable giving. According to “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, Baby Boomer donors are top supporters of first responder organizations, human rights, religious and spiritual causes. Fifty eight percent of Baby Boomer donors will attend or participate in a fundraising event. Forty-nine percent of Baby Boomer donors give through a monthly giving program. Forty-six percent give through workplace initiatives. Twenty-one percent give through Facebook.

Baby Boomer donors give an annual average of $1,212 to an average of 4.5 organizations. They answer voice calls, email, text messaging and direct mail. Comfortable with technology, 24 percent of Baby Boomer donors were promoted to online giving because of a direct mail appeal. Boomers are also active on social media.

Developing Effective Fundraising Campaigns Aimed to Reach Baby Boomer Donors

Baby Boomer donors, like Greatest Generation donors, respond to direct mail and phone fundraising campaigns. Unlike Greatest Generation donors, Baby Boomer donors will also respond to email campaigns, text messages and social media campaigns, primarily through Facebook. This means you have a lot of flexibility in designing and implementing your donor communication vehicles. Baby Boomer donors will read newsletters, view videos and donate online. Tapping into their yearning for community betterment and promotion of social good, Baby Boomers will also like, follow or promote nonprofits and their causes. By employing a wide variety of communication vehicles, you can package your donor messages so they seem fresh each time they are delivered.

Whereas strong self-sufficiency messages will resonate best Greatest Generation donors, strong messages pertaining to increasing the community good though activism will resonate best with Baby Boomers donors. Appeal to their sense of social equity and social justice in your fundraising campaigns. Talk to Baby Boomer donors in language that underlines how they are being active in communal efforts toward improvement of the human condition.

And don’t just ask for money. Ask Baby Boomer donors to participate in your agency’s advocacy efforts. Advocacy feeds into Baby Boomers’ sense of contributing as a member of a group to a cause that will increase social good. Use the Baby Boomers’ willingness to like, follow and promote your cause.

Then use your increased number of followers to increase your corporate funding. As we talked about in the article Building Donor Relationships: Corporations, businesses are looking for visibility and exposure. The more likes and followers you have on social media, the easier it is to show that partnering with your organization will, in fact, result in greater exposure and visibility through social media.

Baby Boomers represent 25 percent of the US workforce. And Baby Boomers are interested in social good. To appeal attract and retain them, corporations today heavily engage in social responsibility initiatives. Corporations offer many workforce giving programs including employee matching gifts, employee volunteerism and management of employee donor advised funds. Forty-six percent of Baby Boomer donors give through workplace initiatives.

Like Greatest Generation donors, you are likely to see about $250 total annual gifts from Baby donors. Although not as many as Greatest Generation donors, Baby Boomer donors also give to multiple nonprofits. Like Greatest Generation messages, Baby Boomer donor messages focusing on collaboration between community nonprofits will be of great appeal.

Gen X Donors

Gen X Donor Cohort Characteristics

Gen Xers were born in the years 1965-1979. They are the sons and daughters of the early Baby Boomers. Gen Xers were born during periods of tremendous cultural turmoil: the civil rights era, Vietnam War protests and Watergate scandal. In addition, women started working outside the home in greater numbers than before. With both parents working, many Gen Xers were latch-key kids. As latch-key children, they learned to rely on themselves to meet their own needs while their parents were at work. During that time, divorce rates also went up, which gave rise to more single-parent and, when remarriage occurred, stepfamily arrangements.

Gen Xers also came of age during the advent of computers and the rise in technology, which has had a tremendous impact on the way Gen Xers communicate and interact. Gen Xers today tend to be established in their career paths with stable incomes. They also tend to be married with children in high school or college or living at home after college. As the Baby Boomers retire, Gen Xers are taking their place as the movers and shakers in society.

Gen Xers today make up 20.4 percent of the United States population, a smaller percentage than Baby Boomers. Gen Xer’s, however, make up 33 percent of workforce, a larger percentage than Baby Boomers. According to Charitable Giving in the USA 2019, 57 percent of Gen Xers donate and 28.9 percent volunteer. They contribute 20 percent of total charitable giving. According to the report “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, top Gen X donor causes include health services, animal welfare and environmental protection. Fifty-six percent will attend or participate in a fundraising event. Forty-nine percent donate through a monthly giving program. Nineteen percent donate through Facebook. Up to date with technology, Gen Xer’s respond to text messaging, email and regularly check social media. They will also respond to phone calls.

Developing Effective Fundraising Campaigns Aimed to Reach Gen Xer Donors

Unlike Greatest Generation donors, Gen X donors tend not to respond to direct mail appeals. Like Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer donors, Gen X donors will respond to phone calls. However, because of the effects of the rise of technology, the best way to reach Gen Xers is through email campaigns, text messaging and social media. This is good news for fundraisers because email and social media fundraising campaigns are less expensive to implement than direct mail or phone campaigns.

Whereas Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers are more likely to rely on printed annual reports and financial statements, Gen X donors will conduct their due diligence using technology. Which means that the design and friendliness of your agency’s website is of the utmost importance. Including being mobile friendly. To make your fundraising campaigns the most effective, use both social media and email to get your message out. You can also reach Gen X donors through online videos and they will respond.

Much like with Greatest Generation donors, when you craft your messages to Gen X donors center them around themes of individualism and resourcefulness. Because they value self-sufficiency, Gen X donors may contribute to activities that encourage independence for your clients or for your organization. In addition, point out what makes your agency unique, not only in terms of mission fulfillment but also in the processes you use to meet that mission. For example, you can talk about any unique partnerships you have that leverage resources.

At 33 percent, Gen Xers make up a significant portion of the US workforce. Which means, just like Baby Boomer workers, companies are eager to recruit and retain them. Which means you need to look into workplace giving programs to realize maximum dollars. Do you know who your Gen X donor employers are? Have you asked them? Do you promote employer matching gift programs in your fundraising campaigns? Does your organization recruit or have a base of Gen X volunteers? Do their employers pay them for the volunteerism or make contributions on their behalf when they volunteer? It’s worth looking into. Have you talked to the decision makers of the corporate philanthropy efforts to find out if your cause falls into company giving areas? Letting your Gen X donors know you do these things shows your resourcefulness in action, which appeal to them. In addition, you will realize additional corporate giving revenues, which will further increase the resources available for mission fulfillment.

Effective Fundraising Techniques for Reaching Millennial Donors

Millennial Donor Cohort Characteristics

Millennials were born between 1980-1995. They are the sons and daughters of the late Baby Boomers. Unlike the Baby Boomers, Millennials did not grow up amidst violent cultural strife. Millennials grew up with colossal advances in technology and the advent of the internet. They are tech-savvy. In fact, as a group, they take technology for granted. They don’t know a world without it.

Millennials grew up participating in group activities, including playgroups, dance classes and team sports, among others. They value teamwork. They look for ways to be included and involved. Growing up in a team environment where attainment of any kind was rewarded, Millennials seek constant input and affirmation from others. Millennials also tend to be committed, confident and achievement oriented.

Many Millennials attended college and now carry high student loan debt. They tend to be married or in a relationship. If they have them, their children are preschool and elementary school aged. Millennials juggle moving up the income ladder with heavy family commitments, particularly for their children who tend to be involved in a multitude of after school sports, music and other activities.

Millennials make up 25.9 percent of the total population and 33 percent of the workforce. According to Charitable Giving in the USA 2019, 30 percent of Millennials donate to nonprofit causes while 24 percent volunteer. Millennial donors, however, make up only 11 percent of total charitable giving in the United States. “The Next Generation of American Giving: The Charitable Habits of Generation Z, X, Baby Boomers and Matures” by the Blackbaud Institute, Millennials donors are top supporters of human rights and international development, child development, and victims of crime and abuse. Fifty-five percent of Millennial donors will attend or participate in a fundraising event. Forty percent of Millennial donors donate through a monthly giving program. Forty-seven percent of Millennial donors give through a website while 16 percent give through Facebook. Individual gifts from Millennial donors over a one-year span average a total $481 across an average 3.3 organizations. Millennial donors respond best to text messaging and social media, rarely responding to email or voice calls.

Developing Effective Fundraising Campaigns Aimed to Reach Millennial Donors

As opposed to The Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer donors who will respond to printed materials and phone calls, Millennial donors overwhelming respond to social media and text messaging. With Millennials technology rules. The good news is that: 1) social media campaigns are less expensive and less labor intensive than print and phone campaigns, and 2) all other donor groups except The Greatest Generation will respond to social media. By implementing your fundraising campaigns through social media, you increase your overall net income. Not a bad deal.

Create campaigns that include viewing online videos; liking, following or promoting your nonprofit; participating in your cause; and donating to you. Of course, if you’re asking people to give online, you need to make sure it is easy to find you. Where do you rank in Google searches? Do you provide links to your website in your electronic communications? What about your landing page? What kind of impression is your website making? Do you need to update your website? Make sure website is up-to-date and appealing. In addition, you need to make sure it is easy to give to you. Go through your process for making donations and count the clicks. How many clicks does it take? Will a potential donor get frustrated and give up? What about your donation process can be streamlined?

Millennial donors, like Baby Boomer donors, have a deep sense of social commitment. Millennials are dedicated to social causes and committed to achieving positive social outcomes. Use advocacy campaigns and events to attract Millennial donors to your cause. Emphasize the group nature of your campaigns. Plan group activities where team members can interact with one another, like community rallies or online petitions. Talk about how individual donors contribute to the team. Point out the different but equally important roles your donors play in contributing to positive social change. Confident and team oriented, Millennial donors view themselves as equals to other team members. Play up that equality.

Thank you message are important to send to all of your donors, but they are especially important to send to your Millennial donors. Acknowledging, thanking and validating Millennial donors are musts if you want to retain them. Remember that Millennials as a group need constant feedback and affirmation. Give it to them. Acknowledge all contributions Millennials make to your cause, not only monetary ones. Constantly validate their efforts toward improving the social condition. Affirm their giving activities. At every step. Every baby step. Millennials will not be offended by getting thanked too much.

If you want to engage your Millennial donors further, plan short volunteer engagements or activities. Millennials don’t have a lot of time after tending to their family commitments. Meeting their family commitments is extremely important to Millennial donors. And they have young children involved in variety of community activities. In fact, structure your fundraising activities to be community events. Involve the whole family if you can. Family is very important to Millennial donors. Family units are natural teams.

Other natural teams are found in the workplace. Am effective fundraising strategy to reach Millennials is formation of workplace teams. Millennials are a potent force in the corporate world, making up 33 percent of the workforce. Tapping into workplace initiatives will increase Millennial donor engagement with your cause. Corporations offer many workforce giving programs including employee matching gifts, employee volunteerism and management of employee donor advised funds. Who employs your Millennial donors? Will those employers pay you or their employees for short, structured nonprofit volunteer experiences? Do you promote employer matching gift programs in your fundraising campaigns, letting your Millennial donors know they partners with their company? Have you talked to your Millennial donors about approaching their employers to make you part of their philanthropic giving? Letting your Millennial donors know you do these things shows them they are part of powerful, effective teams making progress toward achieving social good.

Effective Fundraising Techniques for Reaching Generation Z Donors

Generation Z Donor Cohort Characteristics

Generation Z, defined as people born after 1995, make up 25 percent of the United States population.

As a generation, they only know what life is like during times of war: the September 11 terrorist attacks happened before they were born or when they were young children. Generation Z lives in a more diverse world than their predecessors. They grew up knowing an African American president. They will be the last white-majority generation in the United States. The Great Recession of 2008 also greatly affected Generation Z. Generation Z lived through the financial stresses of their parents, adopting attitudes of independence and autonomy similar to Gen Xers and the Greatest Generation.

Moving beyond racial integration and women’s movement of the Baby Boomers, Generation Z witnessed greater civil rights granted to the LGBTQ community. Generation Z is growing up in a world filled with mass shootings. And where hate crimes are increasing. Like the Baby Boomers, Generation Z sees the struggle between the old and the new in political conflict. Political polarization currently dominates the current cultural struggle over how to deal with the rise of the minority majority, the rise in mass shootings and the acceptance of sexual fluidity. As a result, Generation Z is politically active even though most of them are not old enough to vote.

Wanting to win at everything, Generation Z is highly competitive. They want to get good grades, win at sports, be accepted into the best schools and secure the highest paying jobs. Not everyone can, of course. So, to get ahead they learn to act quickly before someone else beats them to the punch. Patience is not a strong suit. Neither is collaboration. As a result of their competitiveness, Generation Z donors tend to also be independent, self-confident and autonomous. Armed with ways to earn income through technology, Generation Z are perfect young entrepreneurs.

Generation Z never knew a world without Facebook, Twitter and Google. While Millennial donors are technology savvy, Generation Z donors are technologically sophisticated. Twenty-five percent of Generation Z is constantly online. They also live on their mobile devices. Most of their information seeking and socialization is done through social media. In fact, they may prefer text messaging and app’s above face-to-face interactions.

Because limitless information has always been available at their fingertips, Generation Z donors form strong opinions about a broad array of topics. They are used to processing a lot of information within very short times spans resulting in short attention spans. Like eight seconds or less. If you want Generation Z donors’ attention, you must grab it immediately.

Fifteen percent of Generation Z donates to charity. Twenty-six percent of Generation Z volunteers.

Many Generation Z young adult donors are accumulating or saddled with high student loan debt. Generation Z donors also tend to me very environmentally aware.

Developing Effective Campaigns Aimed to Reach Generation Z Donors

The most effective thing you can do to improve your fundraising performance with Generation Z donors is to make sure your fundraising campaigns are accessible via mobile technology. First and foremost, your website must be mobile friendly. Must. If you have not yet explored smart phone technologies, now is the time. Unlike Baby Boomer and Generation X donors, Generation Z will not respond to email. Like Gen X and Millennial donors, Generation Z donors will respond to text messaging. In fact, if you can create an app for giving, even better for successfully reaching Generation Z donors. Remember that Generation Z donors may prefer text messaging and app’s above face-to-face interactions.

Effective fundraising campaigns targeted to Millennial donors will employ short, quick, attention-grabbing communication techniques. Messages will be communicated through headlines, pictures and captions. Colors will be bold. Online videos will be brief, one, maybe two minutes at the most. Social media vehicles will include Twitter and Instagram to start. There are others.

In your messaging, describe your strongest strengths, that is, what makes you cream of the crop above the rest. What makes you the best? Feature agency awards, testimonials, accreditations and certifications on your website and in your appeals. Remember, pictures and logos are better than text. Use pictures from several spectrums of your donor base: gender, age, ethnicity, culture and profession, among others.

Unlike Millennial donors who respond to messages about collaboration, Generation Z donors respond to messages emphasizing independence and autonomy. And they are competitive. Design your fundraising campaigns to be competitive. Compare their individual giving against what they gave the year before or against the best giver in the class. Pit this year’s income goal against last year’s, making it a competition to see who topples last year’s record. Ask for immediate responses. Number one, while you have their eight seconds worth of attention, take advantage of it. Number two, pit their response against time. To be successful, come from as entrepreneurial and competitive posture as you can.

Generation Z donors are constantly looking for new ideas and experiences. You can meet the need for newness by leveraging communication and advocacy campaigns with your fundraising campaigns. As with Millennial donors, to successfully reach Generation Z donors make your fundraising activities short with no long-term commitments. In addition, give your Generation Z donors opportunities to be heard and express their opinions. This means designing and structuring interactive communication and fundraising campaigns. Surveys are one way to elicit responses. Just make sure that if you ask for responses, respond back. And not weeks or months later. Immediately. The attention span of Generation Z donors is too short for anything else. Make responding to you immediately rewarding. Acknowledge them, thank them, validate them. Let your Generation Z donors know they are the best of the best.

Wrapping It All Up

Your individual donors span five generations. Know your donors inside and out. Use their preferred communication channels. Talk to them about things they are interested in ways that they will find satisfying. Ask them to do something. Give them a way to do it. And when they do it, respond back. Thank your donors. Report back to them. Dialogue with your them. Interact with you donors in ways meaningful for them. Engage your donors. Let them engage with you. Build a successful donor relationship. And watch your fundraising results soar.

To Effectively Reach Greatest Generation Donors:

  • Direct mail and phone calls work.
  • Print materials are preferred over electronic ones.
  • Messages about frugality and resourcefulness are important.
  • Ask for in-kind donations, not only money.
  • Self-sustenance is appealing.
  • Physical accessibility is fundamental.
  • Periodic financial updates are welcomed.

To Effectively Reach Baby Boomer Donors:

  • Direct mail, phone calls, email campaigns, text messaging and social media campaigns work.
  • Vary the communication vehicles you use.
  • Make your messages about social equity, social justice and improving the human condition.
  • Make donating to your cause an action that is part of a larger group effort.
  • Ask for participation in advocacy efforts, not only money.
  • Tap into workplace giving initiatives.

To Effectively Reach Gen X Donors:

  • Email campaigns, text messaging and social media campaigns work best.
  • Ask them to like, follow and promote you on social media.
  • Craft your messages using themes of independence and resourcefulness.
  • Tap into workplace giving initiatives.

To Effectively Reach Millennial Donors:

  • Technology is where it’s at. Liberally use social media and text messaging campaigns.
  • Ask them to like, follow and promote you on social media.
  • Create messages emphasizing group accomplishments.
  • Make donating to your cause an action that is part of a larger group effort.
  • Ask for participation in advocacy efforts, not only money.
  • Continually acknowledge, thank and validate them.
  • For maximum dollars, tap into workplace giving initiatives.

To Effectively Reach Generation Z Donors:

  • Step up your social media and text messaging capabilities.
  • Make sure your communications and website are mobile friendly.
  • Make messages short.
  • Use attention-grabbing design.
  • Diversity is important.
  • Craft your messages using themes of independence and autonomy.
  • Present yourself at the top of your game.
  • Immediately reward them for responding to you.

Copyright © 1992-2021 Author Brick Road, a Project of CharityChannel LLC.


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