Boomers: the young donors you should be worried about

Once again, a self-appointed millennial tells us how we’re doing everything wrong, this time using the valuable space of The Agitator: ‘Millennial’ Rants.

Don’t pay too much attention to any self-appointed spokesperson (of any age) who wants to tell you everything you’re doing wrong and thus failing to reach his generation.

The typical spokesperson message goes like this: Everything about fundraising is wrong, and it needs to be changed. If stop being wrong about everything, millennials will suddenly become great donors. It wont’ matter that in doing so we lose the current generation of faithful elderly donors — because you’ll replace your corny old people with cool young people.

The Millennial Rant is empty.

If you’re spending a lot of time worried about how you’re going to get millennial donors, you’re wasting your time.

It’s true, most fundraisers aren’t doing what it takes to attract millennials. And that’s okay, because people in their 20s and 30s are just not very good prospects. Hard (expensive) to get on board, even harder to keep there.

Don’t worry: they’ll start showing up in a few decades.

Until then, what we should be sweating is how to get Boomers to give. The Boomer era of fundraising has started, and we don’t have them figured out yet.

Mindsharepie

Rather than getting all wrapped up in What the Millennials Want, I’d allocate my mindshare per generation like this:


  • 40% Silent Generation (born before 1946). They are still our stars, the engine of philanthropy. It is far from time to walk away from them!
  • 50% Boomers (born 1946-1964) They are already here, and we haven’t fully figured out how to connect with them.
  • 8% Gen X (born 1965-1980) With the leading edge of the generation turning 50 next year, they are going to start showing up soon.
  • 2% Millennials (born 1981-2000). By the time they start becoming meaningful donors, technology and media usage won’t be at all like it is now. Almost anything you learn about millennials today is going to be out of date by the time it starts to matter.


Comments

12 responses to “Boomers: the young donors you should be worried about”

  1. Hi Jeff,
    Great post. Best thinking. I have tweeted, and will continue. This is one of the holy grails of fundraising. Yet so many are seduced into getting it wrong. Best Giles.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    Great post. Best thinking. I have tweeted, and will continue. This is one of the holy grails of fundraising. Yet so many are seduced into getting it wrong. Best Giles.

  3. Truth! In the US Boomers represented 43% of giving by individuals and matures another 26%. The youngest Boomers turned 50 this year, at the peak of their careers and able to give big. Keep the 70% giving (retention rates are an international shame)and enroll and engage Gen X — in their 40s and ready to engage with you. Follow the money!

  4. Truth! In the US Boomers represented 43% of giving by individuals and matures another 26%. The youngest Boomers turned 50 this year, at the peak of their careers and able to give big. Keep the 70% giving (retention rates are an international shame)and enroll and engage Gen X — in their 40s and ready to engage with you. Follow the money!

  5. Great breakdown of which age groups you should focus on for fundraising. Baby Boomers and the Silent generation have been the biggest donors for our clients. These individuals are at the time where they are moving from success to significance and they want to give back to causes they believe. Knowing this, it’s important to understand how to best connect with them for fundraising initiatives. We recently have tried snail mail campaigns vs focusing solely on email and social media marketing.

  6. Great breakdown of which age groups you should focus on for fundraising. Baby Boomers and the Silent generation have been the biggest donors for our clients. These individuals are at the time where they are moving from success to significance and they want to give back to causes they believe. Knowing this, it’s important to understand how to best connect with them for fundraising initiatives. We recently have tried snail mail campaigns vs focusing solely on email and social media marketing.

  7. I’m part of a religious non-profit, and I’d love to see an article on how best to appeal to those in the Boomer Generation. Today’s 50+ crowd is much more diverse, sophisticated and savvy than the generation before. We have some Boomers on staff, but they run in the kind of circles that put them out of touch with the majority of the group. Some of us are trying to move the org from self-centered to donor- and impact-centered. It’s a tough move, requiring much change, but it will be worth it in the long run. The key is knowing where and how to fine-tune our fundraising process.

  8. I’m part of a religious non-profit, and I’d love to see an article on how best to appeal to those in the Boomer Generation. Today’s 50+ crowd is much more diverse, sophisticated and savvy than the generation before. We have some Boomers on staff, but they run in the kind of circles that put them out of touch with the majority of the group. Some of us are trying to move the org from self-centered to donor- and impact-centered. It’s a tough move, requiring much change, but it will be worth it in the long run. The key is knowing where and how to fine-tune our fundraising process.

  9. Thank you, thank you. I agree whole-heartedly.

  10. Thank you, thank you. I agree whole-heartedly.

  11. One of the best way to change your organization from “self-centred” to “donor centred” is to change the way you write things. Remove all your “left brain” words and replace them with “right brain” words. They are the Anglo-Saxon derived words.
    The two best books for information are: Web Copy that Sells by Maria Velosa and Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale. Joe doesn’t call his choice of words as “right brain” but that is what he is promoting.

  12. One of the best way to change your organization from “self-centred” to “donor centred” is to change the way you write things. Remove all your “left brain” words and replace them with “right brain” words. They are the Anglo-Saxon derived words.
    The two best books for information are: Web Copy that Sells by Maria Velosa and Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale. Joe doesn’t call his choice of words as “right brain” but that is what he is promoting.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog