Who Is Your Nonprofit Missing? Using Integrated Marketing to Connect With Generations X, Y, & Z
Posted by Guest Blogger at Apr 02, 2014 07:05 AM CDT

This article was written by guest blogger, Maureen Wallbeoff, vice president, Firefly Partners.

It’s a common nonprofit communication challenge – how do I make sure that my content is resonating with my audience?  All verticals, all sizes, all levels of sophistication – we all struggle with the big three:

In a recent session for the IMAB Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference for Nonprofits, Mark Rovner, Kerrie Goughnour, and I teamed up to review the latest data on generational giving.  We also walked through a compelling case study focused on millennials, and presented some gen-specific tactics you may want to use at your organization. You can view a recording of the whole shebang here.

The Research: Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving Report

Mark Rovner, Principal, Founder & CEO of Seachange Strategies, presented a thorough overview of this recent report, including a fantastic section about defining the earmarks and giving behaviors for the four most established generations. You can check out our full slide deck here and download the report here.  

Here are his key takeaways:

Top Two Giving Channels by Generation 

Direct Mail
Honor/Tribute Gifts

Honor/Tribute Gifts 

Gen X
Retail Giving (Give $1 at check out)

Gen Y
Shop to Give (Symbolic Giving)
Workplace Giving 

The Case Study:  Be The Match Foundation’s Be The Match On Campus Program

Kerrie Goughnour, Development Specialist, Direct Response at Be The Match (BTM), has fresh experience in outreach and conversion specifically designed for the college-age supporter.  Over the past 25 years, Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. They work every day to save lives through transplant.  Their work includes efforts to increase awareness, grow the marrow registry, and raise money.

BTM has several successful programs, including Team Be The Match and Be The Match Walk/Run.  In early 2013, leadership recognized that there was an opportunity to provide outreach specifically to the college-aged population.  They do a lot of work on social media channels so they had some experience thinking in a multi-channel way. Leadership chose to dedicate time and money to creating a special online place for college students. Their goals for this new program included:

Kerrie’s team partnered with Firefly Partners to create a fully responsive peer-to-peer website for Be The Match on Campus.  This new site allows each participating campus to have its own branded web presence with communication and fundraising tools for students to get involved.  The campaign launched in the fall of 2013 and is already expanding to more campuses for fall 2014. Kerrie and her team have identified these early “lessons learned” for working with the millennial population:

The Tactics: Gen-Specific Communication 

Development folks often approach me with a gleam in their eye and one quick question:  How can I reach my supporters most effectively?  I’m here to tell you that the answer is – start with your data.  Get a grasp of your current supporter mix, and create a short list of ideas using tactics that the data shows is most effective for your particular set of supporters.  Mostly Matures?  Keep direct mail as your main tactic (for now), and try a campaign or two designed to reach an audience that you need to grow. 

Here are some quick ideas for tactics that I’d recommend you set up and test before end of year giving rolls around:

It can feel challenging to try to wrangle a communication plan that works for each generation and uses our ever-expanding set of channels effectively.  Try to feel empowered (rather than overwhelmed) by the many tools at your disposal.  Keep an eye on your performance data, and approach your new attempts as just that -- attempts.  You may succeed beyond your wildest dreams or you may learn what does not work with your audience.  Either way, use this data to try something new in 2014, and next year you’ll have a good grasp of the best approach to get results for your particular organizational communication and fundraising goals.

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