Mobile giving, crowdfunding, and the “Next Generation of Canadian Giving”

publication date: Nov 5, 2013
author/source: Michael Johnston

In a major study of more than 800 Canadian donors that hjc recently completed with Blackbaud, Edge Research, and Sea Change Strategies, two big trends stood out: mobile fundraising and crowdfunding.

The increase in use of mobile devices means that mobile fundraising can no longer be ignored. And crowdfunding has emerged as a new form of the familiar “peer-to-peer” fundraising approach. How will these two trends help you reach each generation of Canadian donors?

First, let’s look at the generations studied. The Next Generation of Canadian Giving 2013, which builds on a similar study conducted in 2010, looks at the philanthropic habits of the following generations of Canadians:

  • Generation Y (or Gen Y, born 1981 - 1995)
  • Generation X (or Gen X, born 1965 - 1980)
  • Baby Boomers (or Boomers, born 1946 - 64)
  • Civics (born 1945 or earlier)

 Some interesting data emerged around how the mobile technology and crowdfunding trends are shaping each generation’s’ interaction with charities and nonprofits.

Engaging through mobile technology

Since 2010, an overall 12% increase in donors who have a landline but choose to use their mobile phones has been fuelled by Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y in particular.

  • 20% of Boomer donors have a landline, but primarily use their mobile phones -- a 10% increase since 2010.
  • The use of a mobile phone as a primary phone by Gen X has increased by 20% since 2010, to 39%.
  • 50% of Gen Ys are mobile-only users, while 38% of this generation have a landline but primarily use their mobile phones.

In terms of actually giving, we asked Canadian donors whether they would consider making a donation on their mobile device (smartphone or tablet) and through which channels: charity websites (on a smartphone), charity apps, or text-to-give. The results:

  • Charity websites were identified by the majority of donors as a potential donation channel, as close to 1 in 5 donors said they were willing to donate using a mobile device through a charity site.
  • 44% of Gen Y, 31% of Gen X, 13% of Boomers and 11% of Civics would consider making a donation through their tablet or smartphone on a charity website.
  • 24% of Gen Y, 18% of Gen X, 4% of Boomers and 3% of Civics would be interested in making a donation on a mobile device through a charity app.
  • 17% of Gen Y, 7% of Gen X, 2% of Boomers, and 2% of Civics would consider making a donation on their mobile phone through text-to-give.

Ready or not, the mobile trend is affecting your organization. Your charity website is being accessed through mobile devices, with donors ready to donate through your donation page. Be sure to optimize your website to make the mobile donation process intuitive and donor-centric. Give your donors a hassle-free mobile web and donation experience, and your donors will thank you – perhaps even with another gift.

Crowdfunding and generational giving

Crowdfunding involves a large number of people funding a program, project, or cause. Runs, relays and extreme challenges (such as climbing Mount Everest) have already motivated people to collect small sums of money from their peers for years. Crowdfunding uses the same dynamic of many small gifts, and has a great potential for growth in our sector.

The percentage of Canadians who have given through crowdfunding is similar to the US – 6% of Canadians compared with 9% of Americans. The breakdown by generation:

  • 14% of Gen Y have given through crowdfunding; 43% are likely to give in the future.
  • 7% of Gen X have given through crowdfunding; 24% are likely to give in the future.
  • 4% of Boomers have given through crowdfunding; 13% are likely to give in the future.
  • 4% of Civics have given through crowdfunding; 6% are likely to give in the future.

Donors have multiple options in crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Kiva, Crowdrise, GiveEffect -- and this list is growing fast. Charities are also developing their own Crowdfunding platforms, like the innovative HealNow website from the Sunnybrook Foundation. Not all platforms are made alike: while some are uniquely designed for artists, others target consumers. Very few specialize in charities.

Kickstarter is by far the most popular site amongst donors, receiving 42% of Canadian crowdfunding gifts. Indiegogo rates second, with gifts from 25% of Canadian Boomers. Nearly 50% of Boomers’ crowdfunding gifts went to other crowdfunding sites such as Kiva (a micro-loan crowdfunding site).

Most platforms will require your donors to access a page beyond your own charity website, so be sure to consider whether sending your donors to an external page is right for your organization. Keep in mind that once a donor is out of your site, distractions could it difficult to return. Hosting a peer-to-peer page on your own site keeps donors in your site, giving you a greater advantage in continuing to leveraging your brand and increase peer-to-peer ROI.

Leveraging mobile and crowdfunding trends for your organization

From the mobile trend, we learn that donors are using their mobile devices to visit your website and to donate. Be sure to optimize your website for a donor-centric mobile-friendly experience to show your donors that you care about their preferences.

Crowdfunding as a fundraising appeal is not quite a new science, as peer-to-peer fundraising has been around for quite some time, but it’s clear that there is great potential in using this approach. Consider what will benefit your organization most – your appeal can be driven by the organization or can leverage the peer-to-peer model, asking participants to raise funds on your behalf.

Marry the two fundraising trends by making your peer-to-peer pages mobile-friendly to allow participants and their donors to maximize their access to your organization.

Find out more about mobile, crowdfunding, and the next generation of Canadian donors in the full report at:

Michael Johnston is the president and founder of the global fundraising consultancy, Hewitt and Johnston Consultants (hjc), which has offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, and Cordoba. Michael also is founder of the UK-based fundraising firm Xtraordinary, and the co-founder of two global fundraising products, The Global Legacy Giving Group and the sports-based Fantasy Fundraising. He has helped raise over a billion dollars for his clients. 

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