Monday, February 11, 2013

BIG’s Blog: The Generation Gap

If you stop mailing your appeals to my mother, you will stop receiving her donations.

If you don’t transform the way you communicate the mission of your organization and focus online, you will NEVER reach my wife (a Baby Boomer) or my daughters (Millennials).

If you try to reach my mother online . . . you will fail.

If you try to reach my wife and daughters through your direct mail appeals . . . you are throwing your money away.

You have to be close to my age (almost 60) to remember this, but back in the 1960s there was a saying: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” What it spoke to was the generational divide in the changing worldview and attitudes between the younger generation of the Baby Boomers and their parents’ generation (WWII and Depression era cohorts). It was actually called the Generation Gap.

To those of you Baby Boomers who are now in fundraising leadership and whose donor files are now 70%+ WWII and Depression era generations, when these two cohorts only represent at most 12% of the population, where exactly are the Boomers (25% of the population) in your donor files? And if you’re a faith-based organization, the percentage of your donor files over 68 years is probably much higher.

I’ve worked with Protestant religious broadcasting organizations whose donor files were pushing 85% WWII and Depression generations.

I’ve worked with Catholic organizations whose donor files are pushing 85% WWII and Depression generations.

Same issue . . . just different pews.

Both faith-based groups are facing the EXACT same problem with the Generation Gap.

To be successful at bringing in continuing donations from the WWII and Depression era donors, you must send them mail and you must communicate with them in the faith language they were formed in. It is their worldview, and it is very different from the Baby Boomer and younger generations’ language and worldview.

Keep mailing and communicating with my mother as you have for the last 50+ years and the checks will keep coming . . . but my mother is not your future

Create a completely different online experience and approach for my wife and daughters or you have no future.


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