Drakes Bay Fundraising
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Archive for the ‘2010 Census’ Category

A Special Report for Estate Gift Fundraisers

Posted by Christopher Dann
Tuesday August 27, 2013
Categories: 2010 Census, Fundraising

For those of your colleagues responsible for current operating and program support, we focus on discretionary income. Estate giving is different. It almost always comes from donors who have been engaged in support of operations and programs, but it doesn’t come from current income. It comes from wealth.

Among the useful data that comes from the Census Bureau are measures of wealth by household characteristics. If you go to www.census.gov/people/wealth/ you can find more data than you’ll ever need or want.  Below is a selection of data excerpted with a planned giving fundraiser’s eye to where the veins of gold lie in one’s donor base.

These are general population data. The chances are any given donor base looks much wealthier, as we have repeatedly seen in research studies. But it’s the profile that is important.

We’ve shown over and over again that the principle demographic factors influencing all giving — current or deferred — are, in order of importance, age, education, household characteristic, and residence ownership and tenure.

By household characteristic is meant whether or not there is a committed couple. The Census — at least for 2010 — used the then-conventional definition of “married couple.” And it provides home ownership without length of community residence. Nonetheless, the distinctions in wealth shown between household with married couples and those headed by singles and between those where the householder owns or rents are telling.

I have indexed the selected data to the base, overall net worth numbers, again to underscore that it is the profile, not the dollar data we should have in view when it comes to transposing this information for donor bases across varying markets and types of organizations.

Table for Aug 29 blog

The largest share of the nation’s wealth — 43% — is held by people over 65, and the next highest — 26% — is held by people 55 to 64.  There’s nothing wrong with having a mature donor file!


The Census is In; Cue the Fundraisers

Posted by Christopher Dann
Friday June 24, 2011
Categories: 2010 Census, Fundraising

The 2010 Census confirms in numbers what we have been anticipating for several decades: More than a third of the adult population is now in the age range of prime giving, 45 to 64, the time in their lives when people have the most discretionary money.

Because the boomer generation is now fully within this age range, the prime giving market has expanded 31% from the last census and represents huge financial opportunity for nonprofits. Boomers have notoriously saved less and spent more, and they may have less discretionary money than the generations preceding them. But there are twice as many of them as there are those over 65.

We’ve known for a long time that marketing and selling to this generation has special challenges. They are very different than their forebears. While fundraising has lagged behind the commercial sector in learning how to engage boomers – nonprofit CRM is tantamount to lowering drawbridges over castle moats – if we can get things right with this cohort, we can have a couple decades of promising fortune ahead. The next contingent, those 25 to 44, is even larger. The 45 to 64 population is slightly over 81 million; the population 25 to 44 is slightly over 82 million.

But let’s not forget the 40 million adults over 65. While these folks have less discretionary money now – indeed less than they used to have, the percent holding mortgages increased from 18% in 1999 to 27% in 2009 – their loyalty to the nonprofits they started supporting in their years of peak discretionary income has tended to hold, and they have demonstrated their generosity.


The 2010 Census and Fundraising

Posted by Christopher Dann
Wednesday April 13, 2011
Categories: 2010 Census, Fundraising

While compassion and generosity are – as far as we know – universal human traits, the objects of either and the means by which both are expressed appear very much to be influenced by culture, all other demographic determinants like age, education, and income being equal.

Although we have done dozens of studies of organizations’ donors over the years, we have rarely asked questions about race and ethnicity because except in rare instances the answers were not going to make any difference to the organizations funding the research. But whenever we did ask, we found non-hispanic whites substantially over-represented and all other racial or ethnic groups substantially under-represented.

For a great many organizations it is clear that the racial and ethnic make-up of donor bases must mostly have to do with the missions and programs of the organizations. But for those and for organizations whose programs have no apparent cultural bias, we strongly suspect that the ways and means of fundraising and fund-giving, as cultural phenomena, explain the under-representation of certain races and ethnicities.

We’re again indebted to Cheryl Russell of New Strategist Publications (www.newstrategist.com) for data mining that seems always to find veins of gold, this time in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Quoting Cheryl, “The nation is no longer about to transform into a multicultural melting pot, it already has.”  And she goes on to point out in her American Consumers Newsletter that the big surprise was the Census finding fewer non-Hispanic whites in the country than had been estimated.  While that population increased a mere 1.2 percent between 2000 and 2010, the growths of Asian and Hispanic populations were both 43%, and the multi-racial population grew by 32 percent.

Fundraisers – and, just as importantly, those who depend on fundraising – need to study and think carefully about the multitude of questions the changing cultural character of our society raises.  We have a lot of work to do.


Next Generation Fundraising and Drakes Bay Fundraising merged in the fall of 2013, bringing the longstanding professional acquaintances of their four principals – Tim Oleary, Carol Leister, Cindy Germain, and Christopher Dann – into a single company and combining the special resources and experiences of each to provide clients greater breadth and depth of service.

For more information about Next Generation Fundraising, click here.