To hear some people talk about it, you'd think that Boomers are now shuffling en masse out of this mortal life and being replaced by fresh new Millennials. (In this scenario, the 65 million people of Generation X seem to have gone missing.)
If you're buying this demographic version of the Brooklyn Bridge, your fundraising is going to suffer. Because they Boomers (as a group) aren't going anywhere for a long time. In fact, they're already the majority of charitable donors.
Check out these facts from the Masterworks blog, comparing Boomers with Millennials: Ignore Us Boomers At Your Own Peril.
Some facts about Boomers:
- They control 80% of all financial wealth in the US.
- They have $46 trillion.
- They spend 78% of all dollars spent online.
- They give nearly half of all philanthropic giving from individuals.
- They are 1/3 more generous than older donors were at the same age.
So why is everyone so focused on Millennials? Well there are more of them than there are Boomers (or any other generation). But:
- They earn 20% less than Boomers did at the start of their careers, despite being better educated.
- The median college-educated Millennial is only earning slightly more than a Baby Boomer without a degree did in 1989.
- They give 11% of all dollars given by individuals to charity, despite being more numerous than Boomers.
And that last fact is the most important one for fundraisers: They're still young, and that means lower levels of charitable giving.
Here's how the generations are playing out for fundraisers:
- The Silent Generation (those older than the Boomers) are still with us, and still important. But they are leaving the scene.
- Boomers are now dominant among donors. And they'll keep getting more so for many more years.
- Generation X is starting to join the charitable giving party, as the leading edge is now in their early 50s.
- Millennials? Not yet.
Reality-oriented fundraisers are not getting caught up in the Millennial Gold Rush. They're studying the Boomers, because that's where the gold really is -- and will be for quite a while.
Don't get me wrong -- Millennials are great. My own kids are Millennials, and they show that sense of responsibility and service that bodes well for their charitable giving era -- when it comes.
In the meantime, we should be dancing with the ones who are already at the party: The Boomers.