Demographics have always played an important role in fundraising. The expendable income of the various groups can determine how fundraising campaigns are targeted, and what the messages ought to be. The Boomer Generation, those who were born between 1946 and 1964, holds a tremendous opportunity for serious fundraising campaigns.
Baby Boomers in the US
According to Pew Research, as of 2021, there were 78.9 million Americans who qualify as part of the Baby Boomer Generation. The income figures of this demographic are considerable to say the very least. It is estimated that Americans over 50 years of age have $2.9 trillion in annual income which represents 42% of all after-tax income.
This generation of Americans is both the largest age demographic in United States, the wealthiest and also the most generous when it comes to charitable giving.
Statistics collected by Blackbaud have identified Boomers as being the source of no less than 43% of all giving.
This really should not be coming as much of a surprise. When they were young, the Boomers happened to be some of the most idealistic people in American history. They still care about those issues they held dear in their twenties, and are now in a position to give financial support.
Boomer demographics on social media
The Boomer Generation can be approached through social media networks. Recent figures should destroy any stereotype of these platforms being just for the young. According to FastCompany research has shown the following growth since 2012 for people in the 55 – 64 year age bracket when it comes to social media:
- 79% growth on Twitter;
- 46% growth on Facebook;
- 56% growth on Google+.
Approximately 36% of the adults who are Baby Boomers own smart phones, which means they can be accessed by mobile applications for donation requests.
All of the data points to a tremendous donor opportunity waiting for nonprofit organizations to capitalize on. The approach should not rely on one tactic alone, and strategies can be developed that will maximize any outreach for possible contributions.
Possible strategies to harness the giving power of the Boomer generation
The National Park Services has released figures that show that over 230,000 individual non-cash charitable contributions in corporate stock, totaling $9,926,000,000, were made in 2020. (For those numbers scroll to the bottom of that page.)
This could dovetail quite nicely with Blackbaud research that suggests that 46% of the baby boomers prefer to give charitably through their workplace. Contacting companies that issue stock and arranging to make it easy for employees to transfer stock donations to a charity is one way of connecting with Boomer donors.
Blackbaud also has noted that nearly three-fourths of the Baby Boomer Generation use Facebook. Proactive use of Facebook is consequently a way to solicit donations from this population. (Incidentally, Facebook encourages nonprofit organizations to use its platform and has a best practices guide to help. Follow Nonprofits on Facebook here.)
Direct mail campaigns alone are not going to produce desired results. Charities can use an integrated approach that would make greater use of social media channels. Crowdfunding appeals, however, do not go over very well with the Boomer demographic. They also are not partial to buying t-shirts or other products to help promote a cause. However, situations where a retailer donates a portion of every sale to a given worthy cause does have appeal to Boomers.
The message given to these prospective contributors has to be factual and positive. Boomers are not impressed by flashy messages, but at the same time they are not anywhere near as gloomy as the middle age stereotype suggests.
Good content on a website that explains a charity’s mission can help convince a Boomer to contribute. Concentrating on showing how these older idealists can still make a positive difference is also going to be very beneficial.
Fifty years ago this generation began its journey to save the world and make it a better place. That enthusiasm and commitment to others has not died out. This generation still wants to make a difference in the community and in a number of charitable organizations. As with any fundraising these people need to be approached in the right manner, and asked. A well-developed strategy for soliciting donations has an excellent chance of being successful.
The Boomer generation may have traveled far from the origins of their beliefs, but their collective heart continues to reside at Woodstock. 😉