Are you neglecting baby boomers in your nonprofit’s communications?
Sure, there’s a lot of information out there about how to court millennial donors. They’re a varied generation with complex preferences and backgrounds, and they can be hard to reach. But you know who else is a varied generation with complex preferences and backgrounds? Baby boomers. The millennial generation are the up-and-coming generation of future donors, but baby boomers are giving right now. Making sure to connect with baby boomers is key to maintaining your nonprofit, even when you’re pursuing future donors.
Baby boomers are an interesting group. The generation includes individuals born in a period that spans about 20 years, so a wide range of ages are represented. Boomers are the generation that oversaw the transition into the digital age; they’re more tech-savvy than their parents but usually not as Internet-dependent as their younger counterparts. Like their parents, baby boomers are generally conscious spenders and respond well to some traditional fundraising strategies. But, like generation Y and millennial individuals, they’re often emotion-driven and highly individualistic.
So how can fundraisers reach this unique group of donors?
Well, start with a strategy that blends traditional ideas with more “new school” techniques. Direct mail campaigns still go over well with some boomers, but others prefer to find their information online. Cover both of your bases by covering both digital and direct mail marketing in your strategies. The dual approach can be incorporated in other parts of your operation, too; think emphasizing in-person engagement as well as social media conversations, and combining telephone communication with e-mail communication to make sure you reach everyone.
When you post on social media, remember that baby boomers make up a large part of Facebook’s users. In 2013, 60% of Americans aged 50 to 64 actively used social media. And that number is rising! Of those social media users, the vast majority of them depend upon Facebook — few of them use X or other platforms. If you’re creating online materials targeted at boomer audiences, Facebook is the best place to put it.
Whatever you do, make sure you offer boomers enough information to assure them that their donation is a wise investment. While younger generations are more likely to give impulsively based on emotional messages, boomers are more deliberate with their money. That’s not to say baby boomers aren’t emotional — they absolutely are! But their instinct to give is often followed by the desire to make informed decisions. To attract this generation’s donors, back your emotion-driven appeals with solid facts, data, and testimonials that will help reassure them that their gift is a wise choice. You may also want to consider including a page on your website that establishes your charity as a reputable organization that makes a tangible difference in the world. This is wise marketing regardless of the generation you’re trying to reach, but it is especially important to baby boomers.
Just like there’s no magic strategy that will bring millennial or generation Y donors flocking to your nonprofit, there’s no magic strategy for reaching all baby boomers. But if you learn a little bit about them — the fact that they’re emotionally responsive but want information, that they’re a diverse generation that bridge the analog and digital ages, and that they want to support charities in an informed way — you’ll find the right place to start.