4 Tips to Connect with Older Donors in your year-end Fundraising

Photo by Sweet Peas Photography, licensed under creative commons Flickr

As we know, some of the most generous people are older adults, and specifically older women.

How do you connect with someone like this, who is the demographic most likely to give to your cause?

Are your older donors on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or somewhere else?

According to the Pew Internet Research in 2012, which surveyed over 2,000 older adults,

“As of April 2012, 53% of American adults age 65 and older use the internet or email. Though these adults are still less likely than all other age groups to use the internet, the latest data represent the first time that half of seniors are going online. After several years of very little growth among this group, these gains are significant.”

So ONE HALF of older American adults are not online. This means that when you look at your year-end giving, it cannot be just online. It needs to be offline as well, with direct mail.

But some seniors ARE online.

This is my grandmother and grandfather. They are pretty rad.

When my grandmother gets up, she goes downstairs to have breakfast. And then she gets online and checks her email. She’s 81. She has an iPad.

“As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. By comparison, email use continues to be the bedrock of online communications for seniors. As of August 2011, 86% of internet users age 65 and older use email, with 48% doing so on a typical day.” (Read the full report)

So what do you need to do to connect with your average donor online?

Don’t use facebook. Don’t use twitter. Use email.

Now that we’re getting into our year-end email time, our thoughts naturally turn to- How can I get people to give more in my year-end email?

Here’s 4 tips to help your older donor give to you in email.

1. Make your email black words on a white background. Don’t go crazy with the fonts and the colors. We don’t get extra points for this. Also, using different colors, even white font on a black background, is MUCH harder for your older donors to read. So why make it difficult for them? Get in there and make it easy.

2. While we’re at it, make a plain-text version of your email. That means your email without any pictures or formatting. This way, if your donors do not have images enabled, you can get your point across.

3. MAKE YOUR DONATE BUTTON BIG and surrounded by white space. Don’t make your older online donor hunt for your donate button.


4. Finally, check how your email looks in different mail clients. So not just in your email editor, but send a test email to yourself, check it on a phone, an iPad, and on different email clients, like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.

If your email looks okay on all of these, it will be because you didn’t use a lot of fancy formatting tricks. And once it does look okay on these, you’ll know that you’ve got the majority of your audience able to read your emails.

BTW a service that helps you check how your email looks in different mail clients is GetResponse. I just switched to them. I like them so far!

What else do you like to do to make your emails friendly for an older online donor, or even just a donor in a hurry? Please leave a comment!

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