The New Donors are coming! And they're changing fundraising. The key difference between the old-style donor and the New Donor is this:
- The old donor gives out of duty; she gives because giving is the right thing to do.
- The New Donor gives to make a difference. Duty may still be important, but her main motivation is to have a positive impact on the world.
For the old donor, giving is its own reward. The New Donor, on the other hand, needs to know and feel that her giving makes a difference. She puts more demands on the organization she supports -- she wants more information and involvement. when she gets what she wants from a nonprofit, she also offers more rewards: Larger gifts, better retention, and more upgrade potential.
The New Donor more or less corresponds with the Baby Boom generation -- that massive cohort of 76 million people who have transformed every aspect of culture and commerce they've touched. In 2005, the oldest Boomers turn 59. They're entering their prime giving years, and over the coming years, they will dominate the ranks of donors.
Organizations that fail to adapt to the New Donor face dwindling revenues, shrinking donor files, and challenges from nimble new competitors. But organizations that embrace the New Donor will thrive and grow in the coming decades.
The secret to meeting the New Donor is simple: Be a Donor-Powered Organization.
Being donor powered is more than a set of fundraising tactics. It is a fundamental mindset that sees donors as the life-blood of the organization. The Donor Powered Organization approaches donors in three important ways:
Empower your donors. Boomers demand choice. In everything from hamburgers to cars, they've grown used to having it their way -- and they attach their loyalty to organizations that accommodate them.
Serve your donors. Boomer Generation customers have driven the demand for faster service, better quality, more selection, easy returns, no-questions guarantees. Donor-Powered Nonprofits will learn to serve donors outrageously. They'll serve in large and small ways that will make giving easy, rewarding, and emotionally satisfying.
Respect your donors. Many nonprofits seem intent on "improving" their donors: educating them, raising their consciousness, or elevating the level of communication they use. The Donor-Powered Organization knows the truth: There's nothing wrong with your donors! Treat them respect, and they'll reward you.
Donor Power is the future of fundraising. But it won't be easy. Many nonprofits will not be able to meaningfully make the shift away from self-focus to donor-focus. Those are the organizations that will fade as the Boomers move in. Those that do make the shift, however, can look forward to a Golden Age of Fundraising.