Advertising industry is starting to get it?

From the New York Times — the front page, no less: In Shift, Ads Try to Entice Over-55 Set:

After 40 years of catering to younger consumers, advertisers and media executives are coming to a different realization: older people aren’t so bad, after all.

Advertisers are being driven in this direction by two factors:


  1. The formerly-young Boomer generation is now getting old. The very generation that sparked the youth infatuation of the ad industry is no longer youthful.
  2. People over 55 have more wealth than those under, lower unemployment, and high levels of media consumption in all channels. They’re basically a massive goldmine for those who want to sell stuff.

This is great news for nonprofits. One of the biggest problems we’ve faced for a long time has been the influence from the youth-worshipping ad industry. Because advertising is kind of like fundraising’s older, richer cousin, we can hardly help but be influenced by the assumptions and culture of ad agencies — directly and indirectly.

Billions of dollars have been wasted by fundraisers who borrowed the techniques and approach of advertisers: edgy, modern design; clever, indirect messaging; media assumptions that are basically guaranteed to miss older people. People do those things because that’s what so much marketing looks like. It just doesn’t work in fundraising because we have a very different target audience.

Then there’s the hilarity that ensues when ad people work directly for nonprofits.

Let’s hope that this maturing and refocusing of the advertising world will trickle down to the fundraising world. Only good can come of that.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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