Monday, 6 September 2010

How are you engaging with Baby Boomers as Donors?

One of the key findings of my Christian Giving Survey revealed that the typical Christian donor today is likely to be 55 - 64 years old male, a university graduate, still in employment (in other words a Baby Boomer).

In the UK today Baby Boomers are the largest and richest pupulation segment group - they hold 80% of UK's wealth and are set on spending it in ways they please them. While large charities with big marketing departments have worked hard at understanding this group and tayloring communications to meet the Boomer's needs and expectations many small, or medium size charities are trying to reach out to Baby Boomers without really knowing much about them.

Here are some pointers from our own research and from general thinking about Baby Boomers that can help small charities smarten up their fundraising and makw the most of their relationships with generous Baby Boomers.

1. Baby Boomers are likely to be university graduates who have an appetite for information (like to listen to Radio 4 or watch the news on the BBC) and have more discretionary income than older or younger people. Appetite for information and discretionary income are top requirements for direct mail fundraising.

The question is: What is your charity doing to acquire new supporters from the Baby Boomer generation? Find out what Boomers read or listen to, where do they hang out in your local community (clubs, groups, associations) and think creatively about how you can get your charity cause in front of them.

2. Our research showed that Baby Boomers appreciate good communications - inspiring stories, feedback about projects they have supported, big picture articles on issues you are addressing. How do your charity's newsletters or appeals tell your charity's impact stories? What compelling pictures are you painting for Baby Boomers so they can support your cause? How are you keeping them informed about the impact their giving is making?

3. Baby Boomers are often depicted as self-centered people who grew up in affluent times. They want to be treated as individuals and like to express themselves. That is why personalised fundraising appeals are a wonderful way of connecting with Baby Boomers and giving them opportunities to express themselves in the ways they engage with charities.

Our research showed that wealthy Baby Boomers want to have their say in shaping a charity's direction and future plans. Once you understand what makes Baby Boomers tick the question is: How can your charity provide ways for Baby Boomers to engage with your work and feel that they are playing a special role in making the world a better place through their giving?

4. Most major donors and philanthropists are likely to give generously not because they have high incomes (although that is often the case) but because they have accummulated assets. The fact of the matter is that Baby Boomers are and will continue to inherit significant assets from their parents. And, these assets will ensure that they can sustain their busy lifestyles as well as their charitable giving.

What is your charity doing to tap into this 'inherited' wealth of Baby Boomers? What opportunities can you offer them to leave a mark in the world that goes beyond consumerism and pleasure?

5. Many direct mail packages today are still focused on getting support from the 65+ age groups - long copy and short copy, photos, images, cause concepts, language that appeals to older people but does not necessary connect with Boomers and yunger generations. The fact of the matter is that Boomers are different from their parents.

So, if your charity wants to relate to them you need to start testing the length of the appeals, test the use of credit card donations or regular giving option. And more importantly, create personalised appeals and thank you messages that prompt generosity and philanthropic conversations between your charity and your Baby Boomer friends.

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