All in the Family
[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a quarterly series of stories that we’re calling “The Leadership Series,” where leaders in the fundraising sector speak to big-picture issues that fundraisers need to think about over and above the day-to-day details of their jobs.]
Recently, my family sat around the dinner table discussing the fundraising appeals that had arrived with that day’s mail. Since fundraising is not just a family affair — it’s the family business — we tend to look for organizations that stand out, with compelling offers and relevant messaging.
On this evening, only one appeal met the test. A gift catalog from a conservation organization promised our family a wonderful experience and valuable lessons if we sponsored an animal they were working to protect.
This eye-catching effort spoke to us as a family, recognizing that this gift met not just the needs of the organization, but our needs as a family — to give to organizations making an impact, to teach our children about being charitable, to avoid the blatant commercialism of the holidays; in short, to change the world through our charitable support.
Today’s families most frequently are headed by baby boomers and Gen Xers, two generations that have radically increased their giving in recent years and are demanding that charities meet their unique needs as individuals. Family priorities override almost all others. They are the basis for the values of these important and influential groups.
Do your organization’s core messages reflect these values? Do they illustrate that you have a shared interest in their children?
What parents need
One of the most effective ways to illustrate that you know your supporters is to support them in the most important role they play — as parents. The most important fact to know about today’s donors is that their kids come first. Regardless of their generational label, their parenting role drives most of their purchasing and, thus, their donating behavior.