The generations of donors: from matures to Millennials

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Rubén Escobar (
Crowdfunding. Image: Wikimedia

Crowdfunding. Image: Wikimedia

It is not a rocket science that different generations of donors might also have different motivations when making a donation. A computer graphic shows the key differences in the features of donors to nonprofit organisations, based on their age.  

It is not a rocket science that different generations of donors might also have different motivations, interests and priorities when making a donation. As showed in a computer graphic posted on Classy, the first online and mobile crowdfunding platform, five different generations are analysed. Among them: the matures, Generation Baby Boom, Generation X, the Millennials and Generation Z. What all those age ranges mean? In order to have a successful online fundraising experience, it is a must to understand the demographics of the potential donors for your NGO.

In that sense, each generation grew up in a completely different world. Because of this significant reality, the key point to marketing strategies reaching different generations must be attached to their way of understanding the world. NGO often just focus on the richest target, but this might be a mistake. Here’s a summary of each generation features and how we must interact with them when aiming to get donations:

1. The Matures (born in 1945 and earlier)

They are known by the “Greatest Generation” when it comes to giving money to charities. However most of the population born in 1945 and earlier might be far from using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), more and more people in their 70’s or older are getting used to social networks such as Facebook. As a result, communications should be expanded not only through email marketing tools, but also through social media. Matures represent 26% of total giving and they are top supporters of emergency relief, the Arts, advocacy and election campaigns.

2. The Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964)

They represent 43% of total giving and half of them want to know about a nonprofit finances before they give. Known as the most charitable generation, most tend to be loyal givers, donating to the same cause once and again. This generation is split between giving online and giving direct mail. The outreach of new donors might be effective when either posting links to your online giving page or using direct mail campaigns. Baby Boomers are top supporters of first responder organisations.

3. Generation X (born between 1965-1976)

They’re top supporters of health services, animal rights, welfare and environmental protection. They represent 20% of total giving and it is estimated that Generation X will inherit over 40 trillion dollars. Though Millennials are often thought of as the most tech-savvy generation, Generation X was the first generation to give online. They launched the digital age and this generation, now in their 30’s or 40’s, holds a higher median income than other generations. In order to engage them, we must make sure that our website is optimized for smartphones, keep track of social media as the best way for the first connection and provide online options for joining a monthly giving.

4. Millennials (born between 1980-2000)

Millennials make up 11% of total giving. An interesting datum shows that 84% of millennial employees donated to a nonprofit in 2014. They are top supporters of human rights and international development, child development and victims of crime or abuse. They are digital natives, so making sure that the website is up to date, offer opportunities for peer-to-peer fundraising and telling your organisation’s story through social media is essential.

5. Generation Z (born in 1996 and later)

Also known as the “Philanthrokids”, they will make up 40% of all customers by 2020. 60% want their work to make a difference and 76% are worried about the planet. They have not started to give donations yet, but 26% of those aged 16-19 volunteer. Facebook has become old-fashioned for them, more interesting in new social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat.  


Source: Ellie Burke,

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