The Secret Digital Lives of Older Donors: It’s not what you think!

The Secret Digital Lives of Older Donors: It’s not what you think!

At Pareto we come across many fundraisers who target the younger demographic for online giving. That’s great. A larger percentage of younger people do give online.

Pareto Benchmarking data also shows that donors who are 60 years and older are increasing their online giving. They’re embracing the digital life and their numbers continue to grow.

And once they begin to give online, they keep giving that way – and give more than younger donors.

According to the ABS, as at June 2015, Australians aged 65 and over spent seven hours online, on average, in any given week. This compares to 9.9 hours for the national average of Australians aged 15 and over, and 16.5 hours for people aged 18–24.

Of their online usage, email communication is the most common online activity for older Australians.  According to ACMA, 76% of the older Australians use email regularly.

That’s fantastic news for fundraisers. The older donors who provide the bulk of the income to charities are moving into the more cost-effective, digital channels.

And they’re using a range of devices like desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones to do it.

But that doesn’t mean we can dump all our other fundraising channels in favour of the cheaper, online world. What it means is this …


Operating in multiple channels and providing many ways to give is the key to reaching donors of all ages.

To increase your online giving you need to continue to invest in direct mail and other traditional sources of fundraising revenue. The more integrated the messaging across channels, the better fundraising results you will see.

Tom Ahern, one of Pareto’s favourite international fundraising experts, last year released a FREE downloadable e-book for fundraisers.  In the book, Tom and other fundraising experts weigh in on the top 20 answers to the top 20 questions about best practices in donor communications.

What Tom and the experts had to say about multi-channel fundraising is this:

 As Jeff Brooks noted in 2014, “Direct mail sends more people to give online than any digital medium like Facebook or email does.”

Boston-based expert, Tina Cincotti, said that 15% to 37% of online gifts are prompted by a letter. “Plus,” she cautions, “donors are three times more likely to give online in response to a direct mail appeal than to an email appeal.


“Direct mail not only isn’t dead. It’s more important than ever.”

Tina makes another point, this time about multiple touches. “By receiving a letter and then giving online, that supporter has become worth more to you. Donors connected to you through multiple points give at least 20% more than donors connected through only one channel. They also have better conversion rates. And higher retention rates.


So you’d best be fundraising both online and offline.”

So, to be a great fundraiser, be like your donors. Get comfortable with both channels. And make sure your donors are getting the same messages – with the same look and feel – at every touch point.

That’s how you will maximise your fundraising income.