Boomers: the young donors you should be worried about

I’m on vacation. So this week I’m re-posting some of the most-read posts from the past year or so. I hope you enjoy them!

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 we stop being wrong about everything, millennials will suddenly become great donors. It won’t 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 Almost anything you learn about millennials today is going to be out of date by the time it starts to matter.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

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

  1. Sheena Abraham Avatar
    Sheena Abraham

    I’m 31, and I approve this message!

  2. Sheena Abraham Avatar
    Sheena Abraham

    I’m 31, and I approve this message!

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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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