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Donor Age Trends

  • 1.  Donor Age Trends

    Posted 07-08-2020 10:10 AM
    I've been spending the summer trying to identify trends in our donor ages. Over the past 15 years, our college has seen a shift towards an older donor base. I hope to use the data to encourage a revived pursuit of donor acquisition and discovery work, particularly with our alumni base made up of largely 30- and 40-somethings.

    That said, I would like to see if the age shift is common across the industry, particularly in higher ed. Is anyone familiar with recent studies on donor age trends that I might be able to look up?

    Additionally, has anyone completed similar studies at their organizations and seen similar trends? I'd appreciate any tips here, if you have them.

    Thank you,

    Nate Laning
    Director of Advancement Services
    Trinity Christian College

  • 2.  RE: Donor Age Trends

    Posted 07-08-2020 11:50 AM
    A few things to think about:

    • Age is the most important demo in predicting giving. Older folks participate at a higher rate and give more money. You need to assess the shifts in your donor base relative to the demographic shifts in your alumni. If, for example, your college had substantially increased enrollment 40 years ago, your alumni as a whole will skew older, and so will your donor base.
    • We are in a general "donors down, dollars up" world, where charitable participation is much lower since 2000, but overall money raised is higher. That is consistent with an overall aging of your donor base.
    • Education giving incidence is down about 2.5 percentage points, from 14.5% of households to 11.93% in 2000 and 2016 respectively. Proportionally speaking, that's a drop of 1/6.
    • The folks who were 20-40 in 2000 gave less in 2016, when they were 36-56, than 36-56yos gave in 2000. In other words, the growth in dollars is driven by boomers and older giving away larger portions of their wealth as they age. Younger generations are giving fewer dollars and at lower rates than those older generations gave when they were the same age. In other words, we're raising more money from an aging cohort, and far less from ever smaller younger cohorts.

    Most of this data can be found here  IU's Lillly School report, 16 Years of Charitable GIving Research

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    CRM Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:

  • 3.  RE: Donor Age Trends

    Posted 07-08-2020 01:48 PM

    Thank you, Isaac. This is incredibly helpful information to inform the report I'm putting together. At first glance, it looks like our data mirrors a lot of what I see in the report.


    With our largest class sizes occurring in the early to mid-2000s, many of our alumni fit into the demo that is giving fewer dollars and at lower rates. There's a great deal of work to be done.


    Appreciate the assistance,


    Nate Laning

    Director of Advancement Services | Trinity Christian College

    6601 West College Drive | Palos Heights, Illinois 60463

    708.239.4822  |