Why Event Fundraising Works, No Matter the Generation

Published on 3 Nov 2023 by Auctria

There’s a lot of discussion floating around about Boomers and Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z. It can feel intimidating to figure out how to fundraise across generations when you need to speak to a wide variety of age groups. While there are distinct differences across the generations, event fundraising can be just as effective with Boomers as Gen Z! You just need to keep a few things in mind when planning and running your event.

Today, let’s talk about:

  1. Knowing your target demographics: different generations have different preferences, so it’s important to tailor your event to your specific audience.
  2. Customizing your event to your audience: consider factors such as event type, location, and bidding type when planning your event.
  3. Customizing your communication to your audience: use language and channels that resonate with your target audience.
  4. How Gen Z is the future of fundraising: looking to the future, fundraising needs to focus on authenticity, impact, and transparency to speak to Gen Z.

Keeping these 4 topics in mind when you’re planning, organizing, and running your fundraiser will help you curate a fun event for your attendees that’s sure to bring the money in!

Know Your Target Demographics

First off, it’s always helpful to know who your target audience is: the audience for Breast Cancer fundraising may be different from the audience for Animal Shelter fundraising. Some demographics may be more split across gender, others by race, and others by generations and age. This information is key to identifying your core audience that’s most likely to donate and be involved in your fundraising effort. Your core audience isn’t your only audience, though! A good marketing and fundraising plan will also address how you plan to speak to people outside your core audience. This group may need more education or outreach to see the importance of your fundraising but they can be a great additional source of fundraising and support.

Target your strengths but don’t limit yourself; bringing people in to support your cause is important for growing your events and meeting your fundraising goals.

  • If you want to dig into donor trends across older generations, check out this article by NonProfitPro.

  • For information about younger generations, check out this article by Forbes.

Customize Your Event To Your Audience

Once you’ve learned more about your target and secondary audiences, you can gain insights to drive your strategy. This goes for any aspect of the demographic (gender, race, income, age) but there’s plenty of data available regarding different generations, making it easy to research how to target your primary audience based on age. You can use external sources and research to determine what drives your audience to give, how to speak to them, where to advertise your event, and more! Once you’ve done your research, it may be helpful to think about how your audience’s age might impact their preferred event.

Would they prefer an in-person or online auction?

  • Young Millennials and Gen Z will likely feel comfortable using online apps to bid.
  • Boomers and older may prefer paper or paddle bidding.

This also applies to your giving methods.
It’s always important to provide multiple giving methods so the donation process is as frictionless as possible, but the age of your target audience can give you a few insights into their preferred methods.

  • Older audiences are generally less tech-savvy and often pay with checks or even cash for smaller amounts.
  • For younger generations, it’s critical to offer an online donation platform.

If the future of fundraising is dependent on Gen Z as the upcoming generation, then the future of fundraising is increasingly online - building out a strong online system will pay back dividends moving forward! If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to online bidding, check out our handy mobile bidding guide.

But no matter what age group you’re speaking to, there’s a fundraising event that will fit their preferences - it’s up to you to dial in what your audience will like best in order to maximize event turnout and fundraising.

Customize Your Communication To Your Audience

Just like customizing your event, it’s important to customize your communication as well. It’s always best to use a multi-channel strategy so that you’re advertising your event and cause to as many people as possible; however, knowing which audience group tends to use which platform the most can help you dial in your communication and pay more attention to the most important channels.

  • Physical mailers and invitations can be great for audiences of any age, as even younger audiences still enjoy a physical invite or reminder. This may also be a great way to grab their attention by cutting through the digital noise of a busy social media space, where you’re competing for their attention alongside a lot of other events, brands, and more.

  • Direct mail may be the most effective for older generations, so if you’re targeting an older primary audience, investing in a direct mail strategy may be worth the money.

  • Different social media platforms have different generational audiences as well. While users of all ages are present on every platform, Facebook tends to have an older audience.

  • Posting on a variety of social media accounts will get your cause in front of a large audience, but knowing where your primary and secondary audiences are most likely to be can help you get more specific in your communication. For instance, if Gen Z is your secondary audience, you could post more educational content on Instagram to help pull in new audience members.

  • Cultivating a strong email subscriber list is also a great way to keep engaged audience members up to date; by giving you their email, they’ve told you that they want to hear from you about your events and your cause! Sending regular emails keeps them engaged with your cause even when you don’t have an event soon and could even encourage them to make more donations throughout the year.

The Future of Fundraising

Generational-based audiences naturally shift as each generation ages. This means that the future of fundraising is dependent on Gen Z.

  • The oldest members of Gen Z are ~26-27, meaning they’re of an age to have enough income to donate comfortably to causes they care about.
  • Additionally, research has shown that Gen Z cares deeply about where they spend their money - marketers have learned that Gen Z will research brands and their mission, only supporting businesses with missions or ideologies that align with theirs (such as commitments to sustainability and diversity).

This is a great sign for fundraisers!
Our entire job is to raise money for causes people care about, so if we effectively communicate to Gen Z why they should care about our causes, then they’re a prime audience for us to work with. They may also be more likely to volunteer and help support causes they care about in ways other than donating, so be sure to give them opportunities to be involved - especially for the younger end of the generation that may not have money to spare yet (but will in the future!).

  • For an in-depth exploration of what drives Gen Z, McKinsey’s article is a great resource.

There are lots of further resources available to help you iron out the details of your event but we’re confident that the tips we’ve included here will help get you off on the right foot as you begin planning. Hopefully this guide has helped you start to consider some of the big decisions you’ll need to make as you begin planning your event - and Auctria is always here to help! We’re an easy to use, powerful tool to run all types of events and auction fundraisers. Auctria makes it easy, from the first donation to the last receipt and all the activity & bidding in between.