As an entrepreneur, strategic communications professional, and policy wonk, I've worked on social innovations in the for-profit and non-profit world, helping to develop campaigns and solutions to social and natural resource challenges.

I'm constantly tracking and analyzing what make us as humans, inspired to act and respond to new ideas. This is where I share my thoughts and notes. 


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Inspired to Act: The Next Generation of America

Successfully motivating people to react to a cause, contribute money, or lend their support to your effort is like solving a math equation. When you add it up correctly, you increase your chance of inspiring people to act.

I'd offer the equation looks something like this:

Target audience(s) + clarity/resonance of message + quality of delivery/creativity + channel(s)/method(s) of delivery + ease of meaningful response/response system  = volume of inspired action

As American political campaigns have proven in the last decade, understanding demographics and trends is essential if you want to inspire people to donate money. How and why is your audience giving and reacting?

The video above was published in April of 2014, but it summarizes the The Next Generation of American Giving Report released last August by Blackbaud, the well known name in the non-profit software and solutions field.

The video focuses on the first part of the equation and the adage: know your audience. The video is a great introduction to the report and the ideas of thinking about communicating with your supporters and audiences in a strategic way. Most importantly, it gives real data on how people react to non-profit appeals for support based on age segmentation.

And this report shouldn't be considered applicable only to "giving" to a non-profit; there is clear cross over for social enterprise and cause marketing strategic planning (for an additional layer of analytics on changing audiences in America check out the PEW Research Center's great new online interactive report titled "The Next America" published in April of 2014). 

Blackbaud is looking to get leads for the download of the report, so I won't undercut them by posting it here - you can download it on their site. It's a great read and worth it. 

If you want some of the really interesting top level information, the report is also summarized by a well done interactive infographic. Finally, I've included below The 10 Key Findings of the Report, though the in-depth research and content of the report is much more informative than just the summarized items here:

1. Most Americans give. Matures are the most generous generation. A greater percentage of Matures give and they support a greater number of causes than younger generations. On average, individual Mature donors also give more money to the causes they support.

2. Baby Boomers will exert an outsized influence on charitable giving for the foreseeable future. Representing roughly one-third of all adults who give, Boomers contribute 43 percent of all the dollars donated.

3. Most donors across all age groups do not plan to expand their giving in the coming year.

Multichannel is the new normal. While all generations are multi-channel in their communications habits, the ideal mix varies from generation to generation.

Direct mail is far from dead, but it also won’t last forever. Generations Y and X are far more likely to give online, and as many Baby Boomers say they give online as via direct mail.

Generation Y donors have distinct priorities and preferences with regard to causes they support. Notably, they are far more likely to demand accountability and transparency than older donors.

The value of some channels (e.g. social media), is undervalued if measured by transaction metrics, as opposed to by engagement.

Among transaction channels, the future looks cloudy for telemarketing and giving via SMS/text.

Peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding, on the other hand, appear to have promising futures as fundraising strategies.

Nearly half of those who give engage with causes in ways other than making donations. 

Finally, connected to the report is Blackbaud's Index, which they describe as:

"a great fundraising resource that brings you the most up-to-date information on charitable giving today. Tracking approximately $13 billion in US-based charitable giving, the Index is updated on the first of each month and is based on year-over-year percent changes. Featuring overall and online giving, the Index can be viewed by size and subsets of the nonprofit industry."

 I've embedded the live widget for the Blackbaud Index below to play with:


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  • Response
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