How (and Why) to Attract Gen Xers and Baby Boomers for Year-End Giving
Generation Z and millennials comprise the largest living generations in the U.S., and their giving habits transformed nonprofit giving forever. For example, they pushed nonprofits to social media. They’re also generations that demand more transparency to get involved. Still, two other generations possess most of the wealth.
Baby boomers and Gen Xers still care to give back in meaningful ways. But they respond differently to things than millennials and Gen Zers do. While the younger generations make sense for brand awareness, the older generations make sense for high-level gifts. So, it's time for a strategy update if you're struggling to attract Gen Xers or boomers as donors or have been ignoring them. Here are four ways to attract Gen Xers and boomers, especially for year-end giving.
Meet Gen Xers and Boomers Where They Are
The No. 1 way to attract Gen Xers and Boomers as donors is to meet them where they are. It means taking the time to understand what appeals to each age group. For example, surprisingly, Gen X is a generation that cares about sustainability. Yes, it's something that Millennials and Gen Z care about in their lives. However, when making investments, Gen Xers factor in sustainability.
If your nonprofit looks to focus on green living, Gen Xers could support your cause if you make sustainability part of the messaging. Also, while millennials and Gen Z get drawn to causes directly linked to social media, Gen Xers and boomers are more likely to respond to causes they can relate to personally. So, learning what resonates with your target donors and speaking their language is vital.
Show Gen Xers and Boomers the Impact of Their Donations
While younger generations care more about the social impact of a cause, boomers and Gen Xers tend to be more interested in the direct, measurable outcomes of their donations. There’s a difference between impact and outcomes. Impact shows the difference made. In other words, what happened? However, outcomes are quantifiable results.
Therefore, for Gen Xers and boomers, their gifts' tangible results matter. If you demonstrate outcomes, they’re more likely to give as donors. If you're starting a new outreach to them, you could let prospects know how their gift will help your organization achieve its mission. As a nonprofit, your communication should focus on donations' outcomes for older generations.
Offer Gen Xers and Boomers Something Different
Another way to attract boomers and Gen Xers is to offer them something different from what your organization provides millennials and Gen Z. You may have an annual nonprofit walk or 5K that’s been successful. But, your focus has been on younger runners, and maybe you forgot about older generations. Make a special effort to get them involved.
Gen Xers and boomers love to immerse themselves in experiences. However, don't rely on one-off events to attract donors. Instead, continuously find new ways to engage a broader audience throughout the year. Choose events and activities you can sustain over time. Why not create in-person and also virtual reality tours? These events allow you to engage your segments of prospects in dynamic and exciting ways.
Be Transparent With Gen X and Boomer Donors
We know Gen Z and Millennials grew up with technology and social media for the most part. As a result, they expect transparency and openness in everything they encounter. However, donors of all ages appreciate transparency, and Gen Xers and boomers also respond positively.
So, if you’ve struggled to attract donations from Gen Xers or Boomers, try opening up about the realities of fundraising. Because of their decades of experience, they have a greater degree of perspective. They appreciate the tough discussions about budgets and growing to scale. Also, offer surveys that allow them to share their thoughts.
Create Volunteer Opportunities for Gen Xers and Boomers
Gen Xers and boomers are more likely to give if they have a chance to get personally involved. One way to attract Gen Xers and baby boomers as donors is to create unique opportunities to engage personally in your organization's mission. Remember, boomers are retiring, and Gen Xers are seasoned, and while they still work, they understand technology, social and younger generations.
For example, you could offer board member positions to engage with your organization's strategic vision. But, only do it for those who bring value (and money) to your organization. You could also create volunteer opportunities that allow donors to impact your focus areas directly. For one, plenty of nonprofits create young professional groups. Gen Xers are a generation that’s often ignored. Make a special group of their peers for them, and you'll likely get supporters.
Attracting baby boomer and Gen Xers as donors is a great way to supplement and expand your nonprofit fundraising efforts. These two generations want to give back and are eager to do so in meaningful ways. But they respond differently than millennials and Gen Z, so speaking their language is essential.
Create targeted year-end efforts specific to them and meet them where they are in their lives. Show the outcomes of your nonprofit, offer them something different and a way for them to get involved with their peers. If you think strategically about Gen X and boomers, you’ll likely increase your fundraising revenue and level of support.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.