Are You Fishing for Donors in the Right Spot with the Right Lures?Every fisherman knows you can’t catch every kind of fish with the same kind of lure and in the same spot on a lake. He needs to decide what kind of fish he wants to catch and use the lures that work best for them. And he searches for the best “fishing hole.”

Searching for donors to fund your ministry is no different. You need to identify those people you think are most likely to support your ministry. You need to assess what channels of communication they use most often. You need to discover ways to make your cause as appealing as possible to them.

In short, in today’s competitive fundraising environment, you need to find the right “lure” and cast your “line” in the right spot for donors to fund your ministry.

Millennials and Generation Z

Research shows direct mail is less effective in soliciting gifts from Millennials, who make relatively smaller gifts and whose overall giving is significantly lower than their elders.

These “digital natives”, along with their younger siblings Generation Z, live their lives online using apps on their smart-phones. They’re a lot more likely to give through digital platforms than through direct mail, though some will still respond to direct mail.

Matures, Boomers and Gen Xers

In general donors’ response to direct mail has been dwindling in recent years. However, it is still the major information vehicle and “offering plate” for the Matures generation (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) and Generation X (1965 – 1985). These three generations account for about 90% of all gift income raised today.

Yes, increasingly Matures, Boomers and Gen Xers are using digital media for a variety of purposes, but they still give primarily through direct mail.

Capital Campaigns

If you’re planning a capital campaign and you’re looking for “leadership” gifts, you won’t depend on events, direct mail or digital platforms to raise 80% of the total dollars needed. The 40 – 50 individuals who make those leadership gifts need to be identified by campaign leaders and receive personal cultivation and solicitations.

But when your capital campaign reaches the “public” phase, you’ll largely rely on events, direct mail and digital media to raise the remainder from a larger group of donors.


There are no fundraising tactics that guarantee success. However, here’s what we recommend:

1.    Select the media you use in communicating your cause to donors based on

·       the preferences of potential donors and

·       the nature of your cause.

If you’re looking for small- to medium-sized gifts to fund daily operations, direct mail and digital media are your least expensive and most productive options. If your campaign is for capital or major project funding, you’ll want to use personal solicitations.

2.    Always think in terms of a mix of media. For example, you can reinforce your direct mail fundraising with e-appeals. While personal cultivation and solicitation work best for capital and major donor fundraising, you can use text messages, thank you letters and post cards to help build and maintain relationships with high-end donors.

Want to learn more about connecting with your donors? Download our ebook: How to Communicate Effectively with Your Donors >>