Sunday, July 15, 2012

BIG's Blog: Why Baby Boomer Fundraisers are Missing the Point . . . Maybe

There is an old saying: “If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

The hammer is the Baby Boomer (Boomer) generational cohort. Boomers by virtue of the common experience of passing through the same time together have a common view of life and culture in general. As to the specifics in life and culture, well, that can get a bit more complicated.

Boomers today run the age gamut from 48 to 66. And if they are still in the workplace… which most of them are… they have by virtue of age and tenure in their chosen profession assumed the upper tier of leadership within their group or organization.

We all “get it” that the rise of the Internet is impacting every organization, including nonprofit fundraising organizations. But when Boomers open their eyes and look at the world, they think that naturally all people… other generational cohorts… see the world the way they see it. And when it comes to the Internet, well, that is new and different and we are figuring it out. Right?

Imagine most Boomers surprise when they learn that a huge part of the population under age 48 don’t see the Internet as new but rather old.

After all, the Internet has been around since 1994… almost 18 years ago. Someone that is 47 today was 29 in 1994. And someone who is 37 years old today was 19. To them that was way back. But to Boomers who remember Ronald Reagan beating Jimmy Carter in 1980, 1994 seems like yesterday.

So why are Boomers in fundraising leadership having such a tough time shifting modes from the way they have always done fundraising… think direct mail appeals… to Internet-driven fundraising? Frankly, it is perspective. They see the Internet as “new” and don’t feel the personal imperative to shift in a more determined and speedy way because they don’t feel a sense of urgency. They actually believe they have the time to figure it out.

This is doubly compounded if the board/council they report to is also Boomer or older.

Boomer fundraising leadership is living under an illusion.

In my next blog, I will address “disillusion.”


Welcome to BIG's Blog!  Please feel free to forward this post to your friends and coworkers...and email me a comment at:

No comments:

Post a Comment