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Generation X is philanthropy’s ‘next big thing’

Generation X is sandwiched squarely between older Baby Boomers and younger Millennials.

They’re known as ‘X’ because so little is known about the nature of their generation. Instead they’ve always been portrayed as a kind of neglected ‘middle child’ squeezed out of the limelight by two bigger, flashier cohorts – one older (Baby Boomers) and one younger (Millennials).

But their time in the sun is coming because the first of them have quietly reached a milestone: they have turned 50 years old. Which puts them at the beginning of their journey to becoming some of the most valuable donors.

What we do know about them

They are a savvy group – one of the most highly qualified generations in history. Many hold degrees, with others studying part-time for first or further qualifications.

While baby boomers have enjoyed cheap housing, free education and the benefits of a welfare state and abundant jobs … Generation X has survived housing that costs a fortune, a university education that results in a large debt, tightening social security and far more labour force insecurity.

As a result, Gen Xers left home later, pursued further studies, have higher debt and deferred buying a home and starting a family.

It certainly appears that the Gen Xers are nowhere near as lucky as the previous generation. So it’s no wonder they are behaving slightly differently to the Baby Boomers.

Are you ready for the Generation X donors?

For this generation that is thought of as self-reliant, skeptical, savvy, and more traditional, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ fundraising approach that will work.

They key to successful engagement and retention of not only Generation X, but also all generations, is to operate in multiple channels and provide many options to engage and give.

According to Blackbaud and Edge Research’s report The Next Generation of American Giving, trends and strategies you may want to consider when approaching Generation Xers are listed below.

Of course, these are generalisations and it’s important to get to know the preferences of your individual prospects and donors:

  • Demonstrate impact: 50% of Xers want to see demonstrated impact of their gift, and this has significant bearing on their decision to give. Messaging about your organisation’s impact is critical.
  •  Blend the ways to donate: Gen Xers have a growing preference for making online donations but still respond to mail appeals (albeit, much less so than older generations).
  • Solicit more than once per year: 50% indicate willingness to give more than once per year—which is more than any other generation—so they are more likely to be receptive to multiple solicitations.
  • Engage in multiple ways: Generation X are most likely to fundraise on behalf of a cause, make a pledge, and volunteer their time to an organisation. They are looking for ways they can be involved with time as well as dollars.

While Baby Boomers will continue to represent the largest portion of total giving in Australia for at least the next five years, it’s wise to also get ready for Generation X. They will play an important role in your organisation’s long-term fundraising strategy.

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