Old donors vs. young donors: show me the money!

Are your donors old and dying?

Are they so old they don’t respond to the modern look you want for your organization?

Are they so set in their ways that they don’t respond to your great new positioning?

Is it time to drop everything and start going after Millennials?

Before you do anything drastic, read We need a new audience! at Fundraising Fundamentals:

You don’t want younger donors. [H]aving an elderly donor base isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s great news. Old people give massively more to charity than young people. They have more money and more of it is disposable, they are more charitable and there are more of them. As donors they are vastly more valuable, giving both much more and much more reliably.

If your charity isn’t happy with the supporters it has got, I’d say the fault lies with the charity not the donors.

It’s true. Young donors will cause you untold pain. They sometimes give in astounding numbers in response to a fad (Did someone say Ice Bucket Challenge?) or to major disasters. But outside of that, their giving is rare. And their retention is far below what we can expect from older donors.

Old people make the nonprofit world go ’round.

If you’re serious about replacing your dying donors, you’ll aim at almost old people, those between 45 and 65.

Potential donors fit into three categories:

Gold: 65 and older

Silver: 45 to 65

Brown: 45 and under


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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