According to a report released earlier this year, baby boomers still make up 43% of all charitable giving. However, as baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) begin to retire at higher rates, their wealth and percentage of charitable giving is being transferred to their successors — Generation X and millennials.
Baby boomers adapted a bit slower to the current digital age than their successors. While the generation does online research into organizations on sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, they ultimately still prefer sending paper checks, getting paper receipts in the mail, and getting updates from organizations by mail. Unfortunately, none of these preferences hold up for the following three generations (Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z), so while it’s fine to incorporate some of these offline tactics, relying too heavily on them is not a good long-term strategy.
Currently, Gen X only makes up 20% of charitable giving, but that is expected to increase substantially in the coming years. While it’s true Gen X also prefers communication in a mix of digital and analog mediums, their analog mode of choice is not snail mail, but rather the phone. Gen X is the last generation to prefer any analog method of communication and even they are motivated by social media appeals, prefer to give online, and prefer updates via email. In order to capture the attention of Gen X and the next two generations of donors, it’s important to ensure that most of your fundraising time and resources are spent on digital platforms.
Gen X is sandwiched between two generations (baby boomers and millennials) that get a lot of attention, and it’s not just media attention — Gen X is often overlooked by organizations, too! Not only is this an important group of donors whose wealth and charitable giving is expected to rise in the near future, but they also set the stage for giving trends and preferences for the next two generations that follow them. (To read more about how giving trends vary by generation, check out our generational giving trends blog post.)
If your tactics are focused on attracting baby boomers and not adapting to changing donor demographics, you may find yourself quickly falling behind the curve and struggling to catch up.
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