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Should Young People be a target audience for your charity?

By Claire Fuller | News Fundraising Marketing Creative | 03 September 2018

Last year proved to be an interesting one when it came to charity giving statistics. Research carried out by the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator showed that 18-24 year olds would be the first to give up their smartphones to raise money for charity. In addition, more than half of the young people surveyed indicated that they usually do their own checks on a charity before donating so that they can make informed choices about who to support, compared with only 29% of over 75s.  

How can your charity engage with young people?

Individuals holding hands as a team

The results of this research suggest that young people should be a desirable target audience for the fundraising campaigns of many charities (they were, after all, the age group that intended to make the largest financial donations last Christmas), however it’s vital that charities are wise in how they prioritise their actions for recruiting new supporters across the different generations.  Giving trends from reports such as the CAF UK Giving Report (2018) show that women and older people are overall the most likely to engage in charitable and social activities, so charities should focus on maintaining and encouraging their support, whilst also remembering young people and the contribution they can make too.

Whilst evidence suggests that young people might wish to support good causes it is also clear that their support may not always be financial. 

According to the CAF UK Giving Report (2018), younger people are more likely to volunteer for charity than donate cash.  In this case, supporters may feel that they’re “donating” their time and energy as they don’t have the disposable income available to give financially. Or, if giving financially, young people are likely to give on a more sporadic basis than those from older generations.  Charities should bear these behaviours in mind when developing programmes to engage the younger generation (people aged between 16-24), whilst they may not be able to commit to regular financial giving at this point, through developing an ongoing relationship with your charity they may be nurtured to become a committed financial supporter in the future.  Perhaps younger supporters could be encouraged to get involved through joining trips, signing petitions, or taking part in sponsored events (e.g. a 10k run), rather than solely being asked for financial gifts which they may not be able to give at the time they’re approached.

As research has shown that the younger generation wish to make informed decisions when considering their charitable support, it’s helpful to bear this in mind when creating campaigns, designing literature and writing website copy if you wish to particularly appeal to this age-group.  In order to appeal to a particular generation, you should include information and design that they are most likely to identify with.  So, if we know that the younger generation is likely to do “background checks” on how charities spend their money and how they’re run etc, this sort of up-to-date information should be clearly and readily available for website visitors.  People visiting your website are unlikely to spend hours looking for the information they need, so presenting the information clearly will help them make decisions whilst also showing that they are important to you as you’ve taken time to present the detail that matters to them.

Should young people be the main target for charities?

Aiming for the target

Whilst the type of charitable and social engagement of supporters varies by age, there are specific actions such as volunteering, petition signing and protests that younger people are more likely to be involved in.  However, this does not mean that charities should spend too much time and money on trying to engage younger supporters – the CAF UK Giving Report (2018) highlights that 16% of 16-24 year olds haven’t participated in any charitable activities in the last  year, compared to only 8% of adults aged 65+.  So, it is important to engage the next generation of supporters (for sustaining your charity into the future) but not at the expense of your current supporters too!  

Through research undertaken by CAF in its UK Giving Report in both 2017 and 2018 it is clear that different generations give in different ways. Women and young people are most likely to give through social action e.g. volunteering, signing petitions and protesting. Whilst people aged 65+ are more likely to give through donations and giving goods.

The key for charities looking to develop and maintain their support across different generations is therefore to engage appropriately with different audiences.

Don’t send the same message to everyone as it won’t give you the same response or return since different people engage with different messages in different ways. 

If you’re looking to build relationships with a younger audience or need more guidance on developing relevant approaches to different generational audiences, then please contact us today, we’d love to work with you and help you make even more of a difference.

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