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The Next Generation of Canadian Giving 2013

A study on the multichannel preferences and charitable habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Civics

July 30, 201430 July 2014

Government spending on culture / Donors / Arts funding and finances

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Based on an online survey of 809 Canadians outside of Quebec who made a financial donation to a not-for-profit organization over the year before the survey (May 2013), this report examines generational differences in charitable giving. Unfortunately, the report does not provide the margins of error of the overall statistics or the generational breakdowns. As such, its statistical validity is difficult to assess (although the sample size would be representative at the national level, if it were a random survey). In addition, the report does not indicate why Quebec respondents were excluded in 2013 after being included in a similar 2010 survey.

Despite these shortcomings, the report attempts to help not-for-profit organizations attract donors from all age groups. The main advice in the report for fundraisers is: “Listen to your donors”, whether they are Civics (born before 1945), Boomers (1946 to 1964), Generation X (1965 to 1980), or Generation Y (1981 to 1995).

The report estimates that the share of current donations among the generations to all types of not-for-profit organizations is: Civics (25%), Boomers (32%), Generation X (27%), and Generation Y (15%). The authors propose that not-for-profit organizations adopt a “workable middle ground strategy, one that maximizes income from Boomers, Gen X, and Civics for now, but begins to build an expandable welcome mat for Generation Y”.

Concerning engagement with donors, the report indicates that “all generations value a mix of online and offline” engagement, with some differences in details between the generations (especially regarding engagement via social media). The youngest generation (Gen Y) is believed to place greater importance on financial transparency and evidence of organizational effectiveness. The report argues that these elements should be organizational priorities.

Regarding the arts, the report finds that “Civics are three times more likely to support arts-related organizations than Gen Y.” This situation could lead to fundraising challenges in the future, as the older population (Civics) decreases. The report urges organizations to “prepare for the future today” by instituting “peer-to-peer fundraising, designated giving opportunities, and crowdsourcing”.

The report concludes that fundraisers should rely on their expertise in their own area: “Your experience with your file should guide your strategic and tactical fundraising decisions”.

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