About Younger Donors…


The next time a person at your nonprofit says, “We need to get younger donors!” have them read this:

Top 5 Mistakes: Chasing Younger Donors.

The post is from Bill Jacobs at Analytical Ones.  Bill’s been analyzing nonprofit databases and fundraising effectiveness for 25 years, and he knows what he’s talking about.

He lays out the two main arguments for why nonprofits should not chase younger donors, and I’ll add three more:

  • The research I’ve seen indicates that older donors tend to give more than younger donors.  So all things being equal, a 70-year-old donor is more valuable to an organization than a 35-year-old donor in the near-term.
  • Older donors give you a greater chance of receiving a legacy gift.  Last I heard, the average legacy gift in the United States was North of $40,000.  So a 70-year-old donor is more valuable to an organization than a 35-year-old donor in the long term, too.
  • On average, most donors don’t stay on a nonprofit’s donor file for more than 5 years.  So even if you do manage to acquire a bunch of 35-year-old donors, the vast majority of them will have stopped giving 20 years before they’ve entered their prime giving years.

Read Bill’s post and have a couple of these numbers handy the next time someone brings up younger donors.

In fact, Bill’s whole “Top 5 Mistakes” series is great.  Easy-to-read, short and data-driven, what’s not to like?

And I think we all know this, but I’ll say it to be safe: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with younger donors.  Welcome them!  But unless your cause is massively attractive to young people, trying to acquire younger instead of trying to acquire older donors is not a good financial decision.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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