Wealth and Philanthropy in America
Why do people give? Because they are asked. Why do they give the amount they give? Because that’s the amount they are asked for.
These are two basic principles that Katherine Swank, a consultant with Blackbaud’s Target Analytics, encouraged attendees at Blackbaud’s 2008 Conference for Nonprofits held last month to accept as the truth.
Swank said that the trick during a recession is to keep asking, and to ask for the right amount. The key to asking for the right amount is knowing your constituency and pinpointing which prospects have the greatest giving potential, she said.
Swank presented a convincing case that, even in a recession, the affluent in America are still giving. However, she quickly pointed out that their profile is changing. The typical millionaire is no longer a white, married man in his mid-50s. “He” is just as likely to be a she, to be younger and to be a minority.
So this is not the time for a one-size-fits-all fundraising strategy.
Swank stressed the need to appropriately segment messages as she broke down the giving habits of America’s wealthy and affluent. She then delved into various demographic groups and gave advice on how to address each one.
Here are her thoughts on generational differences:
* GI and Silent Generation (born before 1946) — 80 percent make a cash donation annually and are more comfortable with large, established organizations. They prefer direct-mail appeals.
* Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1960) — 75 percent make a cash donation annually and are beginning to dominate nonprofit boards (54 percent). They prefer face-to-face contact, phone and videos.
* Generation X (born between 1961-1981) — 53 percent make a cash donation annually and bring entrepreneurship and “franchise-industry mentality” to nonprofit culture. The best way to reach them is through e-mail, networking and social events.
* Millennials (born between 1982-2000) — They are just emerging in the workforce and beginning to give, and have never known a world without technology. They’re best reached through the Internet and their college radio stations.
The moral of this little story?
Understand your unique constituencies, and cultivate and solicit them appropriately. When that’s taken care of, those who are loyal to your cause will support you in both good times and bad.
Bill Fryman is the corporate communications manager at Blackbaud.