What nonprofit fundraisers need to know about baby boomers

Baby boomers are a diverse group that nonprofits should work to understand.
Date Published
12/27/2013

While donors can all get behind the idea of contributing to a worthy cause and campaign that strikes a chord with them, nonprofits can’t afford to paint with too broad of a brush. The truth is donors belong to unique groups or segments that require different tactics on the part of fundraising professionals. This is one aspect of donor management that is both research-intensive and rewarding. Figuring out which communication channels work best with specific groups of individuals can mean the difference between a successful outreach initiative and one that fails to hit the mark, resulting in poor donor participation.

Who are they to nonprofits?
One of the largest groups of contributors is the baby boomer segment. According to npENGAGE, these individuals were born between 1946 and 1964, and they’re one of the most active supporters of nonprofits, charities and other philanthropic enterprises. The nonprofit fundraising website went on to explain that many members of this generation developed a strong relationship with organizations as they matured through their 20s and 30s, meaning they require less investment on the part of nonprofits to build notoriety or publicity.

In other words, baby boomers have been exposed to a large number of charitable organizations through radio, direct mail, television, computers and, more currently, mobile devices. While direct mail has been a steady resource for appealing to members of this generation, it’s not a wise decision to discount the merits of digital technology when pursuing fundraising projects.

How to communicate
Since smartphones and tablets have become more pervasive in many demographics – baby boomers included – nonprofit organizations should maintain a strong social media and mobile-enabled presence with this generation. According to research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 60 percent of adults between 50 and 64 are active on social networking sites. At the same time, 40 percent of these individuals who earn between $30,000 and nearly $75,000 annually own a smartphone. That number increases as income rises, as 72 percent of the same demographic earning a yearly salary of $75,000 or more carry a smartphone.

This can have a significant impact on the way nonprofits approach baby boomer donors. While those with higher salaries might have more disposable income to donate to charitable causes or worthy nonprofit programs, it’s important for philanthropic groups to understand how well their mission aligns with these demographic groups. It’s equally critical to determine whether or not baby boomers will be responsive to mobile-centric fundraising communication, such as text messages and mobile app notifications.

Nonprofits should recognize this is a promising donor segment when it comes to contributing to a fundraising campaign. They’re largely accessible through a wide variety of channels, but it’s up to the nonprofit group to understand their donors to develop the most effective appeals.

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