Shake Off the Blues and Bring on the Boomers
Are you tired of hearing gloomy reports about the future of nonprofit fundraising? Concerned when you see the latest industry stats that show new-donor acquisition and retention rates heading downhill and out of control — slowed only by the occasional infusion of donors or cash from a natural disaster? We are too. And with good reason. The nonprofit industry faces challenges unlike any we've known before. But, as we learn from the good work of the charitable organizations themselves, there is definitely hope. Let's start with the bad news … before getting to the good!
Per Target Analytics in the chart at right, revenue trends look bad (down 1.3 percent) and donor trends look worse (down 8.8 percent) over the last five years. In fact, according to Target Analytics, the number of new donors is down a whopping 15.1 percent over the same time period (see Figure 1).
So how bad is it really? As it turns out, it's historically bad — and in a big way! Per Giving USA in the chart at right, total individual giving has dropped 13 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from five years ago and has not yet even returned to 2001 levels, making this the worst giving decade on record by far (see Figure 2).
What's going on? The economy's been in the pits, of course. But it goes well beyond that. The generation of older, check-in-the-envelope donors — yes, mail donors from the Great Generation (born up to 1945) — is quite literally dying out. And its younger brethren, the baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964), have different needs and interests, and are rapidly changing their patterns of media consumption. Sadly, very few nonprofits are meeting their needs, as evidenced by the plummeting levels of new-donor acquisition.
Lest we're tempted to throw in the towel, let's look at the good news: Charitable giving is overwhelmingly driven by seniors. And with the first wave of baby boomers just now hitting retirement, the 65+ population is about to explode, to the tune of an 80 percent increase between 2010 and 2030 (see Figure 3 at right)!