Sunday, June 10, 2012

BIG’s Blog: It’s Now Official

The news last week in a new report from Pew Internet, a project of the Pew Research Center, shows that for the first time, fully half of adults aged 65 and older are online.

The same report also reported that after age 75, Internet and broadband use drops off significantly.

That last part about the 75 and older crowd probably didn’t surprise you.  This real news that half of our population, 65+, are online probably did surprise you; it did me.

But that shouldn’t worry you. The 65+ crowd will still open your direct mail appeals. But now you know for certain that you need to be asking them for email addresses and logging them into your donor management system (database).

No, your real concern should be how you are not communicating and connecting with 30 and 40 year olds. If half of the 65+ population are online, what percentage of the 30 and 40-year-olds are online? Try close to 100%.

In the 70s, 80s and most of the 90s, you were getting a significant portion of 30 and 40-year-olds, at least representative of their percentage of the population. You may still be getting a few, but nowhere near their percentage of the population. How do I know this? Because over the last 15 years the donor files have aged dramatically.

Why aren’t you getting 30 and 40-year-olds?

Answer: Because it’s easier to keep using the same methodology of fundraising as if nothing has changed.

But, of course, things have changed dramatically.

I recently visited a number of faith-based fundraising organizations. Did they all have Web sites? Yes. We’re they all doing social media? Most of them were. Were they sending emails following a direct mail appeal? Most were doing this.

But the reality is that these organizations… like so many long-established fundraising organizations… are really just tinkering around the edges with online. They know that their direct mail isn’t producing 30 and 40-year-old donors in any significant numbers. And when they listen to people like me or others talk about doing things differently… even reorganizing how they do fundraising to reach younger cohorts… they acknowledge the need. But is there a sense of urgency?

Look.  Running a fundraising organization is tough, even when you have the wind to your back and times are good. But today, with revenue flat-to-falling year over year and expenses rising – IT IS TOUGH. I’ve run enough companies through good times and bad to appreciate the struggles of leadership.

But not having 30 and 40-year-olds coming in should be a big red flag.


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