At the beginning of many of my marketing workshops, I present a reality check with some of the latest statistics, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you here.

Today’s reality check is on why you need an online marketing strategy, in addition to a print strategy. I continue to hear some nonprofits say that they don’t really need to invest in an online strategy because “our supporters are older and don’t use the Internet.”  While it’s true that not nearly as many people over 65 use the Internet as those under 65, you can’t really say that seniors don’t use the Internet. It’s just not true. Here’s some real data for you . . .

1. All generations are online in significant numbers. 

The younger you are, the more likely you are to be online. But as of 2012, more than half of people over 65 are also using the Internet. That doesn’t mean you can abandon your print communications in favor of email or social media. It does mean that you need to do both well.


2. All age groups use email.

If I were forced to pick one and only one communications channel for nonprofits, I would pick email because it’s fast, affordable, clickable (you can take action right there), and because it’s reached the point where almost half of people over 65 use it daily.

3. If you want supporters under 65, you have to develop a solid online strategy (web, email, and social media).

The Boomers are the transition generation between those who prefer print and those who prefer online.  Boomers are about equally split as you can see if this graphic which shows how new donors were acquired. Print is clearly the preference for those over 65, while online is clearly preferred under 55, with the 55-65 year olds just about evenly split.

Getting the message? You have to both print and online well.

Here are some additional stats on nonprofit email marketing.

Tomorrow, I’ll share another reality check about how social media and mobile communications are changing the way we communicate.