Baby boomers far more generous online than millennials

A Reason Digital report has found that older people are far more likely to give regularly to charities through online direct debits.

Joe Lepper | 10th Dec 19
Photo credit: Alessandro Vallainc on Unsplash

Baby boomers are more generous online than younger people and should not be left behind by charities’ digital communications, according to analysis into giving trends.

Analysis by Reason Digital, using Populus, surveyed more than 2,000 adults about their giving activity.

This found that those aged 65 and over are twice as likely to set up a regular payment online than young millennials, who are aged 18-24.

“Our research has led us to a number of recommendations we feel the sector needs to act on. Digital marketing should consider a much wider audience as 4.48 billion people are now online across the world,” said Reason Digital Co-Founder Matt Howarth.

“Charities should ensure their comms aren’t leaving people behind. Baby boomers are very much active online and currently more generous than young people.”

Older people are also far more likely to give to charity via street collections, although the gap between online and face to face giving is narrowing.

According to Reason Digital 44 per cent of people donate online and 52 per cent give offline.

Howarth urges charities to ensure their digital communications focus on “when the crossover between online and offline donations happens”.

“Charities could also consider whether offline fundraising products can be translated to online and even focus on which services could work digitally – the potential this could create in reaching more people in need is huge.”

But while baby boomers are more likely to give regularly online, young people are still involved in giving, in particular the social media aspect of fundraising, through organising and being involved in fundraising events. They are also more likely to engage in one-off volunteering opportunities than older donors.

Millennials are also four times more likely to be influenced by a cause they have seen online, compared to baby boomers.

Mental health and climate change

Among millennials, mental health support is four times more popular as a fundraising issue than for older people, the survey found.

In addition, climate change is listed as the most important cause amoung 20 per cent of 18-24 year olds.

“Charities should strive to emphasise their environmental and positive mental health credentials to motivate a younger audience as these are the causes they are most passionate about,” added Howarth.

“These challenges and opportunities should not dissuade us from embracing digital. They should be the signal that our sector is needed more than ever to bring balance, compassion, and assistance to people in the ways that they now communicate with each other and interact with the organisations that serve them.”

The survey took place in November 2019.