Don't forget Generation X on #GivingTuesday!


It’s that time of year again: Kids are back in school, leaves are changing colors, fantasy football teams are negotiating trades, and nonprofits are gearing up for Giving Tuesday!

As organizations begin planning their campaign strategies for this December 1st day of giving, many will skip over Generation X or lump them in with boomers, on their way to wooing millennials.

After all, it's an often-forgotten cohort, wedged between two loftier generations who seemingly have more to offer. But with boomers on one side and millennials on the other, Gen X doesn’t mind being cast in the middle. “Whatever” is the generation’s mantra and the “X” in the name actually refers to the desire not to be defined. Even though this enigmatic generation is smaller than its neighbors, they still wield a significant amount of influence, financial power and a strong desire to give. If your nonprofit is not planning to reach them on Giving Tuesday, you could be making a monumental mistake.

Been there, done that.

Born between 1960 and 1980, Gen X cut their teeth on cable and satellite TV, video games and the introduction of the home computer and Internet; all things directly related to today’s technology. Their passion for social good is obvious when you consider the significant youth movements of the 80’s and 90’s. Anyone remember MTV’s Rock the Vote?

Christine Henseler, author of Generation X Goes Global: Mapping a Youth Culture in Motion, even goes so far as to say, “Millennials and their younger Generation Z siblings owe a great deal of their generational identity to Generation X...Gen Xers laid the political, intellectual, social, creative, and personal ground upon which the Millennials today walk, talk, and text.”

It goes without saying that Gen Y, often touted as the most generous, doesn’t fall far from the Gen X tree.

"I've got one hand in my pocket and the other one is holding a smartphone."

As most fundraising campaigns have a significant digital and mobile component, it makes sense to target tech-savvy donors like millennials. What doesn’t make sense is to leave Gen Xers out of that equation!

A survey by Millward Brown Digital found that 67% of Gen Xers use laptops on a daily basis, versus 58% of millennials. It also found that the majority of Generation X uses a smartphone and goes online regularly to shop, bank, research, and read. They're also a generation ready to give if the cause is right. Nonprofit Tech reports that Gen X gives twice as much to charity as millennials and adds, “...this generation came of age when websites and e-mail were breakthroughs in nonprofit technology, and they have had a love affair with the Internet ever since.”

Influence and spending power? Check.

According to Pew Research Center nearly 1 in 7 Gen Xers are supporting both an aging boomer parent and a millennial child. In fact, in the first third of 2015, 26% of young adult millennials lived at home with their parents. This, coupled with Gen Xers growing presence in both the corporate and political landscape, gives them tremendous influence over decisions spanning three generations. In addition to influence, American Express reports that Generation X has more spending power than any other generation.

How do you target Gen X in a Giving Tuesday campaign?

It’s clear that Gen X is ready to give, but it’s less clear how your organization can tap into that generosity. There’s a lot of research about other generations, but what about Gen X?

Studies like the Millennial Impact Report tell us that Gen Y cares about specific causes, seeing the impact of their charitable work, and the merging of technology and philanthropy.

The truth is, Gen X isn’t much different! If you want to reach this generation, you need no more than a few tweaks to your existing youth outreach strategies. Here are three things to keep in mind when targeting Gen X on Giving Tuesday.

  1. Keep your campaign digital and peer-driven. With busy careers and families, Gen X is pretty stingy with time. Find them where they are (in front of laptops or on mobile devices) and they're much more likely to give. This means remembering to mobile-optimize all your emails, as Gen X is most likely to access their inboxes on a smartphone! Gen Xers now have significant online networks that go beyond friends, family and classmates to include business contacts, coworkers and employees. When you consider their love of everything digital, Gen X is the perfect generation to recruit for peer-to-peer campaigns. Ask them to fundraise online for your cause on Giving Tuesday and help this influential cohort bring new donors and attention to your cause.
  2. Be strategic with your time on social media. Social media is a key element in any campaign and Facebook or LinkedIn are most effective for reaching Gen X. For Giving Tuesday 2014, our research showed 28% of donors were referred from a Facebook post or comment! The same numbers showed a decline in donations referred from Twitter. If your organization is looking for volunteers and board members, use LinkedIn to target Gen X by job title and interests. While emerging applications like Snapchat and Instagram have buzz with younger supporters, don’t forget that it’s traditional social platforms that are driving success for NPOs.
  3. Tell your story! While Generation X gives generously, they still have a tendency towards indifference and cynicism. Crafting a powerful story about your cause will help them care. Let Gen X know why they should give and how their giving has an immediate impact. Use wildly popular tools like online video and socially-shareable infographics to explain why your cause is important. Remember, few people are eager to read 30 pages of your annual report! The more visual your story is, the more likely it is to be viewed and shared online.

Born in the 60’s, and 70’s, and nearly 65 million strong, Gen Xers survived disco, shoulder pads, acid washed jeans, and conspicuous consumption. They currently have the experience, digital awareness, spending power, and desire to be loyal, repeat donors. Don’t discount the per-capita punch Gen Xers can pack this December 1st!

Looking for ways to engage with younger generations online? Check out our ebook on engaging millennial donors and how to empower them!


Get the latest trends and topics delivered to your inbox!

Subscribe to FrontStream's Blog


Share this article