Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Growing Old

What you are doing to attract a new generation?

Hmmmm...who is this "new generation"? For some of our clients, that means opening the door to 60 year olds, for others, it means attracting those in their 30's.

I am the generation that fund raisers talk about all the time -- the baby boomers. They are holding the greatest wealth in the history of North America in their narcissistic little fists. The boomers lived on the cusp of a changing world -- maybe even were catalysts for that change. They watched TV (but didn't invent it); they wore mini skirts -- then traded them in for bell bottoms; they rejected Elvis and embraced the Beatles; they picketed for free love, anti-war and marijuana; they are the generation that talked democracy and community but lived for the "I".

The question fund raisers are asking is: "How do we talk to the baby boomers?

It's a tough question.

The boomers are cynical, tough minded bunch. Yet they are compassionate and want to use flower cards left over from Woodstock days. But unlike the older generation, they are not content to do what you say -- they want to impact change. That means they want to actually have hands on experiences through philanthropic experiences. They will also gravitate to slightly more grass root organizations which they feel are more open to influence.

But these trends are tricky.

We know that boomers want more hands on experience -- but we also have learned that regular "information' (Updates and loyalty mailings) through print does not actually impact increased loyalty to a charity. New projects, excitement because of new growth and new opportunities for growth do build loyalty (like fund offers). They want to be associated with a charity on the move.

We also know that boomers like to use technology. Yet when we assess the increase in web donations, we're not seeing the spike we have hoped for. We see a decrease in giving if the donor only receives e-updates or offers (with the exception of emergencies).

So in the world of competing offers -- how do we build loyalty?