Engaging the Next Generation of Donors

Seven weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, donors have contributed more than $895-million to support relief efforts.

And now, new research on text-to-gift conducted by Convio, Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies on US charitable donors has been released. The data, gathered a week following the earthquake, indicates that mobile philanthropy, while not universally accepted is gaining traction with younger generations, and that the efforts around Haiti could be the tipping point for greater adoption. The mobile philanthropy results are part of a larger study that will be released in the coming weeks on the contrasting charitable habits of Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Matures to provide the sector with insights on cultivating the next generation of American donors.

“The data presented not only shows the growing acceptance of mobile charity appeals, but also provides some interesting statistics on the contrasting habits of different generations,” said Pam Loeb, Principal at Edge Research. “Mobile technology presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits that want to reach specific groups of people – likely to be younger – and provide them with information in a convenient and immediate format.”

Key findings from the research include:

  • 77 percent of respondents (US donors) were aware of the Haiti text-to-donate efforts;
  • 17 percent of Gen Y respondents and 14 percent of Gen X said they made a donation to Haiti relief efforts via text message, and 3 percent of both Boomer and Mature respondents reported making a donation to Haiti relief efforts via text message;
  • 28 percent of respondents with a mobile Facebook application texted a gift;
  • Generally speaking, 36 percent of all respondents were willing to donate via text message after an emergency occurs and 31 percent were willing to donate via text message if a friend is raising money;
  • Three percent of donors say that they received a text/SMS message from their top charities this year;
  • Those who have received information from a top charity through text/SMS, feel that it is an important way to stay in touch with the charities they care about (71% say important).

“Previous to the earthquake little more than $1 million had been raised via mobile text but in the aftermath close to $50 million has now been raised through this channel, and represents another way for charities to engage with current and prospective donors, advocates and volunteers,” said Vinay Bhagat, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Convio. “The nature of SMS/text messaging is instant, convenient and has a multiplier effect when used with social networking tools, and we saw all of those benefits reinforced after the earthquake struck.”

The complete study, “Early Signals on Mobile Philanthropy: Is Haiti the Tipping Point?”, is available for download.