Mind the Gap reflections
Tiger De Souza
The latest CAF report on giving trends certainly paints a bleak picture for the future of charitable giving. The report effectively highlights that over 60s are more likely to donate than those under 30 and when they do give, they give six times as much. It also indicates that propensity to give is dropping in the younger generation down from 23% in the 80s to 16% in the present day. However, the report has received widespread criticism across the sector and even taking those statistics at face value is rather unhelpful. An individual’s resonance with a charitable cause is often driven by personal experience, so it is reasonable to expect that the older generation will have built up a closer relationship to a number of causes through their life. Whether a trigger was becoming a parent for the first time or seeing a close friend or family member battling an illness, many people support charities because the issue has touched their lives. So the first challenge is how do we connect the under 30s to our cause?
Analysis of the behaviour of the under 30s indicates that they have higher expectations and want a more equitable value exchange: what do I get in return for my charitable gift? With 40% of consumers using comparison websites in 2009 and projections suggesting that figure is only likely to grow we must ask ourselves: how effective are we at demonstrating the impact of a donation? If the under 30s are a more challenging, discerning bunch what do we need to give them in return for their time or money?
Lifestyles have also changed over the last forty years, technology has developed and the world has evolved. However, especially in terms of volunteering, there are limited examples of exciting new products that connect with the younger generation and inspire them to take action.
- Movember has been a big success because it is fun
- #riotcleanup worked because it was spontaneous
- iHobo generated 750,000 downloads because it was edgy and controversial
We’re in the midst of a digital boom and the rapid growth of smartphone ownership deserves more than a cursory glance. According to O2, 28% of people prefer to use their mobile to access the internet and making phone calls is only the fifth most popular activity, behind things like gaming and social networking. However, there are limited examples of charities successfully navigating this space.
Mobile technology presents an exciting opportunity for charities to connect with a younger audience, improve the value exchange and develop innovative ways to empower them to support their cause. The stumbling block is that technology is constantly evolving, new trends are emerging and web development is costly. The Faberge Big Egg Hunt certainly demonstrates that if you make the activity fun, exciting and slightly unusual you can engage with a wider audience. The Elephant Family and Action for Children should be applauded for this unique fundraising approach and how the concept exploited the power of mobile technology and social media. However, there is a need for more examples that indicate that a foray into this field would yield a significant return. With a back drop of economic uncertainty, at present it seems unlikely that many charities will break cover and make a significant push in this area.
To be successful in this area I believe we need three key ingredients:
- We need to work with new and exciting partners and I believe the corporate sector could play a huge role in supporting the design of exciting and innovative products
- We need to be more open and share our learning so that we can all understand what has worked well and what has not
- We need key decision makers in charities to actively encourage collaboration and embrace the need to take calculated risks
If the giving gap really is widening the growth of mobile technology offers us a platform to reverse that trend.
Posted by Lynette on November 19, 2012