The Young and the Restless
Someone 20 years old, or 30 or 40 — even 50 — might never become a direct-mail donor. He or she probably will give online from the beginning. And there’s evidence that online donors might act quite differently than their direct-mail responsive parents and grandparents.
While the dot-com predictions of the death of direct-mail fundraising were premature, the stark difference in age between direct-mail and online donors indicates that we could see an increasing schism between the old(er) folks who give by mail and the younger ones who give online.
That’s one of the conclusions I’ve drawn from the most comprehensive comparison of online and offline donors to date, prepared by Target Analysis Group for the first donorCentrics™ Internet Giving Collaborative Benchmarking Report.
For many years, Target’s donorCentrics™ reports on direct-mail and telephone fundraising have helped nonprofits evaluate and compare their direct-response programs. This new online-giving report, produced with Donordigital, shows that while online donors give much larger gifts and produce more revenue per year, so far they look to be less loyal than direct-mail donors. Over several years, direct-mail donors produce more revenue than online donors, despite online donors’ higher acquisition and renewal gifts.
Who are online donors?
The report aggregates 2002 to 2006 data from 12 organizations, ranging from international development agencies that raised tens of millions online for Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami relief, to health, environmental and human-rights organizations with more modest success online.
It confirmed what many of us know: Online donors are much younger and have much higher household incomes than direct-mail donors. Even controlling for household income, online donors give larger gifts. One thing this finding suggests is that perhaps organizations should figure out how to position themselves online to acquire these younger, show-me donors who might never develop the same loyalty as their elders.
Nick lives on a hippie commune in Northern California that just got cell service a few months ago.
Nick Allen helps nonprofits harness the power of the Internet and mobile to raise money, raise their voices and build relationships. For the last 15 years, he has worked in the U.S. and Europe to help organizations — including Amnesty International, UNICEF, UNHCR, Habitat for Humanity, CARE, and UNAIDS — to develop new ways to recruit and retain donors. He is the founder and director of Nuevo Fundraising.