My Aunt Marie once told me that your forties are the old age of your youth, and your fifties are the youth of your old age.

That fat part of the Boomer generation — those born in the mid to late 1950s — are now in their fifties. In the youth of their old age. This is exciting news for fundraisers, but it changes a lot of things, as Seth Godin notes at Fifty is the new thirty:

This changes … the marketing of every service and product aimed at consumers–and yet most traditional advertisers are stuck in the mindset that thirty is the end of your chance to find a new customer or build a new brand. Advertisers who keep on worshipping the shrinking youth market and ignoring the growing 50+ market will suffer. As will fundraisers who don’t take notice of the groundswell that’s right under their feet. If you’re serious about growing in the coming years, you’ll be all over the soon-to-be-old market.


Here are some ways these new young-old donors behave that we need to pay attention to:

  • They want control over      what their giving does. That means raising only unrestricted funds is      going to be harder.
  • They seem to give      larger amounts less frequently than older donors, and to support fewer      organizations. That’s one reason it’s getting harder to find new donors.
  • They are slightly less      responsive to direct mail, which means we need to get our act together      online.
  • They cross channel      lines. This is the biggest deal of all. The most common behavior is to      respond to direct mail on the web. If your website appears to be unrelated      to your direct mail, you are losing donors.

April 9, 2012