Help! My direct mail is turning into my Dad’s direct mail!

Men: You are turning into your father.

If you don’t have kids, and/or you’re under 30, you might not believe me. But it’s one of the most powerful forces you’ll encounter in your life. Most likely in a situation with your kids, you’ll suddenly realize with mixed horror and wonder: I just did exactly what Dad would have done. I’m my Dad!

The same thing happens to women. You are turning into your mother. Resistance is futile.

We’re seeing this in fundraising as Boomers move into the ranks of donors in meaningful numbers. They’re turning into their parents. They swore they wouldn’t. But they can’t stop themselves.

Here’s one way this is playing out: These Boomer donors are responsive to direct mail. A few years ago, they were much less so, but now that they’re becoming their moms and dads, they’re opening and responding to what they get in the mail.

Of course, you don’t become an exact replica of your dad as you age; you’ll retain some scrap of your own identity as you age — otherwise I suppose we’d all be lemurs or slime-molds. That little scrap of self is probably why we see a lower response rate to direct mail among the Boomers. And a greater demand for information and control in the donor-charity relationship.

So, like human beings, fundraising changes, but it changes slowly.

(This post first appeared on July 21, 2011.)


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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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