Are Your Donors Too Old For Digital?


At the IoF Fundraising Convention I took part in a debate, for the motion “Your Donors Are Too Old For Digital”. I wanted to try and summarise my opening and closing statements as a blog post…so here you go…

Only 7% of donations come to non-profits on-line.

It was a statistic I first heard years ago at IoF’s National Convention. But didn’t seem right. There were so many sessions about digital and how on-line was the future. So many vendors telling me all of my donors were on-line. I’d bought in to it…I believed that you had to be investing heavily in digital.

Year after year that figure stayed reasonably stagnant. It still sits at just over 7%. So I stopped listening to what salesmen were saying. Instead I started looking at real donors actions taking place around me….people handing over bank details on the street, donors gushing over the phone, asking for paper sponsorship cards, bringing in bags of cash.

Real money.

Not impressions and engagement. Not eyeballs and clicks. Not chat bots and automated bullshit. (You can’t save a whale with impressions.)

I saw that 7% figure was the method, not the motivator. The motivators were real human interactions, dreams, hopes, fears, passions, a crippling fear of dying alone.

I saw me…Yes I love Twitter. I love Instagram. I love LinkedIn. But even though I was on-line, my life was off-line.

People aren’t on-line…they are off-line in front of a computer…distracted. Yes people are on-line…but they are donating off-line.

Regardless…I don’t matter…You don’t matter. You are not your target audience. 90% of your donors are older than me.

Digital might be the future…but we’re not living in the future. You have time…you don’t need to be an early adopter. We can run this debate next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Until the figure significantly changes you don’t have to invest so heavily in digital. The truth is every form of fundraising works but we have to pick and choose how we spend our time. That’s really what fundraising is. You’ll go back to office tomorrow and you’ll have important decisions in how to spend time. And if you’re spending more than 7% of your time online then you’re wasting it.

Why are you here?

Yes you’re here to raise money…But why are you here today in this room at a fundraising convention?

You already know most of the stuff being talked about – you’ve heard it before. The plenaries are on Facebook live. The data is available on-line. The presentations will be published. You can find each of these speakers on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

So why are you here?

It’s for the same reason that only 7% of donations are on-line.

It’s for the same reason we still crave the human touch. We still shake hands when we meet. We hug. We lose it when someone plays with our beard.

When we interact digitally what we’re really doing is trying to use a more efficient tool to find real human connections.

And we’re doing it badly. We’re sucking the life out of these connections…digital has made it really easy to not be a human. And humans give to humans.


Because you were raised by a human being. Our earliest memories are human touch. We love human touch, we thirst for it, we thrive with it.

It’s everything.

The generation who will be truly digital will be the generation delivered and held and raised by machines. 20 years after that poor child is born…that’s when your donors will be the right age for digital.

Until then…spend your time wisely.

Your donors are too old for digital. And you are too old for digital.


[I’ve countered this with another post Digital Fundraising…How Do I Love Thee?]

Leave your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.