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Older donors most generous

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PJ staff report

Baby Boomers and older donors are the most valuable givers and mainly give through the mail to nonprofits, which should focus their fundraising spending on the donors and giving channels that generate the biggest return now and perform the best, a new study says.

And donors prefer to give to charities that spend money on good management and fundraising, says Heart of the Donor: Insights into Donor Motivation and Behavior for the 21st Century.

Commissioned and created by Russ Reid, a part of Omnicom Group, and conducted by Grey Matter Research & Consulting with over 2,000 participants, the study also found donors age 25 to 54 tend to give both online and through the mail.

“The donors who will be most important to us in the coming decade seem equally facile with both mail and online,” Lisa McIntyre, senior vice president for strategy development at Russ Reid, says in a statement.

Still, the study says, older donors are more generous.

While the number of donors age 18 to 24 are comparable to those age 70 and older, it says, the donor who is 70 or older gives three times as much.

“If the goal of a nonprofit is to effectively target today’s best donors, then they should focus significant and smart attention on the donors giving the most money – seniors and boomers,” McIntyre says.

But that does not mean nonprofits should “turn a blind eye” on younger donors, she says.

“Their value will likely increase as they age,” she says. “But fundraising expenditures must be weighted according to a strategy that maximizes those who are giving now.”

And while social media represent an exciting way to reach younger people, the study suggests, those who actively use social media do not use for donations.

Investment in effective management and fundraising also are important to donors, the study says.

Given a choice, it says, people prefer to give to charities that hire top-quality managers, even with higher salaries, rather than to charities that hire less experienced managers and spend fewer dollars on salaries.

An even greater percentage prefer to give to charities that spend more on fundraising and generates more giving than to charities that spend little on fundraising but raise less money.

Only 28 percent of survey respondents prefer efficiency over effectiveness, McIntyre says.

“Nonprofits are under relentless scrutiny for their fundraising costs,” McIntyre says. “What donors want more than anything else is value for their money. Spending money on salaries is fine, as long as your leaders are effective. If you spend more on fundraising, it’s fine as long as it effectively raises more money for the work.”

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