Our first in a three-part series to offer nonprofits fundraising tips using campaigns that appeal to each generation. 

At this very moment, there are 329.5 million people living in the United States of America. Around one quarter of them, roughly between the ages of 58-76 as of 2022, give more to charity than any other group and control 70% of the nation’s spending power. They are the Baby Boomers. Hear them roar. Then ask them for donations.

Before we deep-dive into appealing to Baby Boomers, let’s talk about generational marketing.

What is generational marketing?

Generational marketing involves targeting your marketing efforts to the preferences of different age cohorts. Consider it another tool in your arsenal: Marketing research finds significant differences in the way the generations behave and recognizing them can help you create stronger campaigns.

Here’s a quick “generational refresh:”

The Silent Generation (born between 1925-1945)
The Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964)
Generation X (born between 1965-1980)
The Millennials (born between 1981-2000)
Generation Z (born between 1997-2012)

Why Baby Boomers are an important audience for fundraising appeals

Baby Boomers may no longer be the largest age cohort in America (Millennials recently took over) – but they give more to charity than any other group. They’re also the most likely to give multiple times throughout the year.

How do you market to Baby Boomers?

A ton of quality research has been conducted on generational marketing. Here are some of the major insights on Baby Boomers that you can implement into your donor engagement strategies:

1. Baby Boomers strongly prefer direct mail marketing.

The evidence is clear: Baby Boomers respond better to direct mail than any other form of charitable giving request. According to the Blackbaud Institute for Charitable Giving, it may be the only method they find acceptable, other than requests from friends and family.

In fact, direct mail campaigns universally outperform email – by a huge margin – when it comes to fundraising. Direct mail generates eight or nine times the amount of giving per year, says Blackbaud. In 2017, email accounted for only 8% of all donations to nonprofits. (Need help with your next direct mail campaign? Ask the experts).

That said, email has a time and a place, too. For example, Baby Boomers like receiving updates about the status of their donation digitally. Meanwhile, social media is a great way to keep people posted on what you’re up to and how you’re making a difference. The strongest campaigns in 2022 seamlessly combine direct mail and digital.

2. They want to know how their money is being spent.

When it comes to donating to a good cause, this generation is highly receptive. But they’re also more likely to seek information on your nonprofit’s reputation and want to know how their gift will be used. Experts recommend using testimonials, detailed financial statements and other story-telling strategies that speak to your organizational impact when appealing to this demographic.

3. They use Facebook and YouTube.

First thing’s first: Compared to Millennials or Gen Zers, Baby Boomers are more likely to seek information about your nonprofit on Google than social media – so you might want to have your Google Business profile ready to go. That said, a solid social media strategy is never a bad thing. Social media may be the ideal storytelling platform and is a great way to keep engagement high.

If you’re going to reach Baby Boomers on social media, Facebook and YouTube are your best bet. Almost 75% of adults ages 50-64 say they use Facebook, compared to a third or less who use Instagram and LinkedIn. And 83% say they consume content on YouTube.

4. Give them more than one way to donate.

This generation is more likely than other groups to prefer donating through a paper check in the mail. That said, the majority also spend money online, so it makes sense to provide more than one payment method. If you’re using direct mail, be sure to include your organization’s physical address or even consider prepaid postage. (Learn how to enhance your direct mailers with Informed Delivery).

The Gist

When it comes to fundraising, Baby Boomers are the number one age group you should be targeting. They have more spending power than any other group and donate the most to charity. Baby Boomers strongly prefer direct mail over other forms of outreach. They care deeply about how their money is being spent, which makes storytelling particularly important. A strategy that combines print, email and social media will probably be the most effective. It’s a good idea to give them the option to donate through the mail.

Keep following our blog for more marketing tips, including next month’s segment on Generation X!