Reaching 4 generations of donors

pexels-photo-226616Today’s donors come from a wide variety of demographics and are spread across multiple different generations. We’ve talked before about the importance of segmenting your donors, and this also includes tailoring your communication to donors from different generations.

Each generation is unique and went through very different experiences, and the donors within those generations often are accompanied with communication preferences. Here’s how to effectively communicate with members of the Millennial, Gen X, Boomer and Greatest generations in your fundraising efforts. But remember, not everyone is the same! Make sure to keep notes about specific donors and the communication methods that they prefer.


Millennials saw the dawn of social media, and older millennials were also effective telephone users and emailers. That said, millennials can appreciate all forms of communication. However, using social media and texting is most effective for them. Millennials respond well to corporate philanthropy. It’s also important that nonprofits make sure that their communications are mobile-optimized, as most millennials appreciate being able to do everything – including make donations – right from their smartphones. Peer-to-peer fundraising is also important to millennials, who are influenced by their peers find that a personal touch to fundraising makes it more appealing. Making donating as convenient and personalized as possible is essential for the millennial generation.

Gen X

Generation X is a very cause-oriented generation and appreciates nonprofits that focus on transparency in their communications. This means demonstrating impact and showing what the results of their donation was. As far as outreach goes, Gen X appreciates both phone calls and texts, as well as email and social media. However, studies have found that direct mail is not as effective. This generation also enjoys diving into corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and engaging with their workplace.


Give them a call, because this generation appreciates phone calls! For the Baby Boomers, phone calls are more personalized and are an effective way to fundraise. They also respond well to emails, but text and social media may not be as widely valued to Boomers. It’s important to keep in mind that this generation tends to make recurring donations, whether on a monthly or annual basis. They tend to be extremely loyal to the causes they donate to, and therefore encouraging monthly giving is important for fundraisers to do. Boomers want to feel a connection, as well as recognition for their gift so make sure that your thank-you game is up-to-date!


Direct mail isn’t dead, and part of that is because this generation loves, appreciates and responds to direct mail campaigns. Like the Boomers, the Greatest generation tends to be loyal to one or two causes, having donated to them throughout their adult life and making frequent recurring donations. They appreciate phone calls and direct mail and tend to donate physical goods, so silent auctions, food or clothing drives and other campaigns involving in-kind gifts will be great motivators for them.

How do you communicate with donors from different generations? Are you segmenting them and reaching them in the ways that are most meaningful to them?