Fundraising and the overrated demographic

A lot of marketers see Millennial customers as a sort of gold rush. Last year, they reportedly spent 500% more on advertising targeted at Millennials than all other age groups combined.

Do I detect some herd mentality?

Millennials are better customers for certain things than others: Outdoor gear. Music. Electronics.

But big picture? Not so much, as noted by Engage:Boomers, at Have We Overrated The Millennial Consumer?

Rather than being left behind by the onslaught of technology, middle aged and even senior consumers are adapting quite well to e-commerce, and marketers need not be so hasty to overlook them. Baby boomers and Gen X have more money than millennials and there are more of them in the general marketplace than millennials. While it’s worth the long term investment to try converting millennials to your brand, their parents are waiting at check-out ready to make the purchase…

This is even more dramatically true for fundraising. Anyone can give charitable gifts, and people of all ages do. But when it comes to ongoing and large-scale giving … it’s an older person’s game. Millennials score low on:

  • Dollars given to charity per capita.
  • Percentage of income given to charity.
  • Repeat giving to any charity — that is, retention.

The money — especially the money that comes from ongoing relational giving — is coming from older people. That means:

  • Silent Generation donors (those born 1925-1945) are still very much with us, though they are no longer a majority of donors.
  • Boomers are more than replacing Silents. They are the majority of our donor audience now, and will be until around 2033.
  • Gen X is about to join the party. If you raise a lot online, they’re already important to you.
  • Millennials start being a force in charitable giving in the 2030s.

Wishful thinking will not change these fundamental demographic numbers. If you really want to maximize your fundraising, you’ll concentrate on older people. That’s Silent Generation, Boomers, and soon, Gen X.

(This post first appeared on July 7, 2016.)


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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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