Young people hear about causes from influencers more than charities, report says

03 May 2024 News


Age has a big influence on people’s perceptions of charities, according to new research, with younger adults more likely to hear about good causes through social media influencers.

Adults under 40 surveyed for the Tomorrow’s Donor, Today‘s second report were more likely to say they had heard about good causes from influencers than local, national or international charities recently.

More respondents in this age group said influencers had the power to make a positive difference than charities, in contrast to those aged over 40.

Respondents in the youngest age group (18-29) said social media influencers were as likely as national charities to make a positive difference, while those in older age groups backed charities.

Adults under 30 were most likely to trust social media influencers, but even they said information from charities was more reliable.

The report by Eden Stanley, the GOOD Agency, and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF), explores the factors that make someone decide to donate in the moment they are asked to do so.

“The good news is that there is huge latent support among younger groups, who want to make a difference,” the report says.

“The trick is understanding their motivations for giving, then investing in engaging them – meeting them where they are.”

Donor types

The report proposes that donors can be grouped into five main types of people, which are:

  • Protectors, who are motivated by causes which directly impact them or someone close to them.
  • Believers, who are moved to donate by a compelling need they’ve been shown and the belief their donation will make a tangible difference.
  • Pioneers, who see donating as a means of expressing their values or ethics and inspiring others
  • Responders, who spring into action when they see a specific need in their community or in the event of an emergency.
  • Joiners, who donate as part of a social activity, to feel part of a group.

The report says that where individuals fall within these groups is aligned to their age, with almost two-thirds of respondents pinpointed as “protectors” aged over 50 and 70% of “joiners” aged between 18 and 39.

The data also suggests the influence of age on people’s perceptions of charities more generally.

Those aged between 18 and 29 are 40% less likely than the national average to trust charities as a source of information on social causes and more than twice as likely to instead trust social media influencers.

The report adds the results seem to give a clear picture which is “fundraising success hinges on demonstrating personal connection and telling people how their money will be used”.

Researchers asked people’s motivations to give, with 54% saying It was a cause that directly affected them or someone they know.

Some 43% said it was made very clear how their donation would make a difference and 34% said the fundraising content emotionally moved them.

The barriers to giving included not being able to afford to donate (40%), and reporting “it is not clear how my donation would be used” (20%).

‘Charities need to understand what moves specific audiences’

Claire Stanley, director of policy and communications at CIoF, said: “It’s never been more important to reach the right supporters with the right asks.

“By identifying the different motivations that compel someone to support a charity, fundraisers have the opportunity to explore new and exciting ways to inspire people to donate – whilst giving them a great experience along the way.

“We look forward to working with our members to promote and champion innovative fundraising ideas.”

Joe Barrell, founder of Eden Stanley, said: “While market confidence is gradually returning to the charity sector, and donation levels are again on the rise, charities are relying on larger donations from fewer people, and struggling to engage younger groups – spelling danger on the horizon.  

“That said, our data shows that since the pandemic, people have been more and more interested in collective action and playing their part in driving change.  To grab hold of this opportunity and secure the future of fundraising, charities need to understand what moves specific audiences to action.”

Barrell added by “identifying which donor types make up current supporter bases, and which audiences they should target – and how – charities will give themselves the best chance of boosting donations, and futureproofing their fundraising strategies”.

The organisation surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,000 members of the UK public, and used trend data from Eden Stanley’s CharityTracker.

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