According to the just-released fundraising study from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC): Three-quarters (75%) of surveyed charitable nonprofits reported being on-track to meet 2017 fundraising goals as of mid-year. 2017 is the highest percentage on track since the NRC began in 2010. Although many organizations receive a significant bump in funds raised in the fourth quarter of the year, nearly six in 10 (57%) of participating charitable nonprofits reported that receipts as of mid-year exceeded the prior year’s result at the same time.

“Since 2011, year-end charitable receipts have increased at more organizations than report growth mid-year. On average by December 9% more charities see growth than reported growth in the summer,” according to Annie de Cossey, Principal at Opus Advisors and Chair of the Association of Philanthropic Counsel, a member of the NRC. “If this holds true for 2017, NRC projects we will see another banner year in charitable fundraising in the U.S. and Canada.”


“Experts in fundraising talk about how customized messaging improves results. This study finds that three-quarters of study participants used at least one approach intended to help them reach a specific generation or age cohort,” says Amy DeVita, managing partner of TopNonprofits, also an NRC sponsor. “It is vital for organizations to recognize that one message, or even one delivery channel, does not fit all.”

…one message, or even one delivery channel, does not fit all

The methods studied by the NRC range from including photographs (used by 78% of responding organizations that did anything at all to customize communications) to organizing a “Young Professionals” group (reported by 32% of the respondents who customized communications in some way).  One of the most frequent age-focused approaches is planned giving. Of the 61% of charities that use planned giving, 37% deliberately market planned gift opportunities to people age 70 and over, and 42%  market planned giving specifically to reach Boomers.

organizations might want to consider asking long-term Gen X donors about including the charity in an estate plan

“This study finds charitable organizations are doing a good job discussing planned giving with donors over age 55,” says Michael Kenyon, President and CEO of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, another NRC sponsor. “Other studies show people make their first will in their late 40s or early 50s. Charities might want to consider asking long-term Gen X donors about including the charity in an estate plan.”

In the three-quarters of survey participants that used any type of age-focused method, about 4 in 10 (42%) create different messages based on the donor’s age. Within that subset of 42%, reaching Millennials (ages 22 to 27) was the most frequent goal, reported by 36% of those that do create distinct messages. Just over one-quarter (27%) prepared messaging intended to reach Generation X, 32% sought to appeal to Boomers, and 28% crafted content for “Matures” (age 70 and above).



Smaller responding charities, with budgets under $1 million, were more likely than larger groups to gifts via social payment services (e.g., PayPal, Venmo). They were also more likely to host events for families and to seek leaders age 40 and under.

Health charities were most likely to use a wide range of different communications methods, from the 94% that said they post twice a week or more to Facebook to 56% that accept social payments. Human services charities were least likely to use the different methods intentionally to appeal to different age groups.

These percentages are based on 838 respondents that offered information about which methods they use at all and which they used to reach different age groups.


About the Survey

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducts surveys twice a year. Download the report HERE

This survey was conducted online and respondents form a convenience sample. There is no margin of error, as it is not a random sample of the population studied. Reported results are statistically significant using chi-square analysis.


About the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC)

The NRC is a coalition of fundraising and charitable organizations dedicated to gathering and analyzing the most accurate data possible to help charities become more effective at fundraising. NRC partners are the Association of Fundraising Professionals; Association of Fundraising Counsel; CFRE International; Giving USA Foundation; the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners; and TopNonprofits.