3 Ways to Appeal to Donors of All Ages

Donor Acquisition and Retention

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Is it possible to appeal to members of the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z all at the same time? Or do you have to build separate campaigns for each generation?

The generation gap(s) may seem insurmountable at times, but don’t worry! There are some steps you can take that will make your next campaign appeal to everyone. Here’s how to do it.

1. Appeal to universal motivations

Different generations are motivated by different things. The Greatest Generation and older Baby Boomers, for example, are more concerned with leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren. Millennials and Gen X tend to be less motivated by personal recognition (although it’s certainly a bonus) and more concerned with solving social issues. That’s not to say that older donors don’t want to solve social issues and younger donors don’t care about legacies! They just have different primary motivations.

But, in their hearts, all donors are motivated by the same thing—making the world a better place for its inhabitants. We all want to help the people, animals, and ecosystems that share the world with us! If you want to create a campaign that appeals to all ages, show potential supporters how their gift will achieve that goal. You can tailor future communications to different generations’ motivations once you’ve established a relationship with them.

2. Make an ask that’s appealing to all ages

If you want to appeal to donors from different generations, focus on making an ask that’s accessible to a broad range of people. A one-time gift of a reasonable amount is pretty doable for most people. An ask for $1,000 is better for a smaller, targeted group of people. Asking donors to join your monthly giving program is a good option but asking for planned gifts should be a part of a specific campaign aimed at a specific segment of donors.

Members of different generations have different giving capacities and different motivations behind their philanthropic habits. If you want to appeal to multiple generations, create an ask that’s easy to fulfill regardless of age, capacity, or motivation. You can always create additional asks that are much more targeted later on!

3. Offer multiple donation options

While we can make some blanket statements about how donors prefer to give, there’s always a group that defies our expectations. We seem to get new insights into donors’ preferences every day! Boomer donors, for example, are split: some prefer to give through direct mail while some prefer to receive appeals (and give!) entirely online. Millennial donors seem to appreciate receiving direct mail but almost always make a gift online. But some don’t. Some Boomer donors prefer to give one large gift, but many Millennial donors prefer to make multiple smaller gifts. And who knows what Generation Z prefers yet?

Cover all your bases by giving your donors multiple options they can use to make a gift the way they want. Include a simple URL to your donation form on your direct mail appeals in addition to your remit slip. Add a phone number to your donation form if a donor would prefer to make a gift that way. Enable both one-time and recurring donations so donors can support you to the fullest on their own schedule. Include a variety of suggested giving amounts that help donors of different giving capacities choose an amount that’s best for them.

Once you have direct mail, an online donation form, and a phone number established, consider adding different options to make giving even easier. Try adding a text-to-donate number to brochures and websites or explore setting up a peer-to-peer fundraising event that will let donors support you with their time and access to their social networks. Once you’ve built a solid base of dependable donation methods that cover your donors’ primary needs, the possibilities are endless!


So much is made of our generational differences that creating universally appealing campaigns and fundraising pieces can feel overwhelming. Avoid the temptation to over-complicate it! Following three simple rules in your next campaign will help you cover all your generation bases: tell stories that appeal to our desire to make a better place, ask donors to give in a way that’s accessible to all ages and giving capacities, and offer donation options donors can use to give in a way that’s best for them. You can always target different demographics later on—keep it simple and focus on the basics for your universal appeals!

Support your appeal with great fundraising tools

Are you ready to support online donations? Do you have a great donation form and recurring options? Have you set up suggested gift amounts that show donors their impact? If you want an online fundraising platform that can help you do these things (and more!), talk to Qgiv! We’d love to share how our tools can make your online fundraising easier and more effective. Learn more about our platform online, schedule a demo of our tools, or call us at 888-855-9595 to talk to a real person about how we can help.

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