The ‘Younger Online Donor’ Myth
One of the many arenas where online giving has established a foothold is higher education, maintains Peter B. Wylie, a data analyst, consultant and author of the book “Data Mining for Fund Raisers: How to Use Simple Statistics to Find Gold in Your Donor Database (Even if You Hate Statistics).” (See the January/February issue of FundRaising Success magazine for a preview.)
“Most colleges and universities now have sophisticated Web sites, and many of them have made it fairly easy for alums and others to make electronic donations,” Wylie says. “But who are these donors? How prevalent are they? How do they differ from the majority of donors who have never made an electronic gift?”
In the spring of 2004, Wylie launched a study of five four-year, higher-education institutions and unearthed some surprising results.
“What I expected to find was a younger crowd who was comfortable with the Internet and computers and who had made relatively small gifts as ‘first timers’,” Wylie says. “That’s not what I found. Yes, it’s a younger crowd insofar as more of them are young than old. But, the median level of lifetime giving was much greater for these online givers than for regular givers -- across the five schools.”
For example, for one school, where the difference in age between online and regular givers was the least, the median for online givers was still 50 percent higher than the median for regular givers.
“If you compare the medians for the oldest 25 percent of alums against the medians for the youngest 25 percent of alums, the older group had given at least four times as much as the youngest group,” Wylie says. “The pronounced overall difference between the lifetime giving rates of online givers and regular givers appears to hold up across the age groups.”