Blogging for Boomers, Messaging for Millennials

One Message for All?

Crafting a message that rings true for your audience is one of the most difficult, yet critical tasks in marketing. An even bigger challenge comes into play when you’ve got limited resources-–as we all do in the nonprofit world-–and want to reach audiences from different generations. 

So where can you start? I recommend digging into the demographics of each group.

The better you understand each audience, the easier it will be to find areas of common interest, and/or determine which direction to take your messaging. Take, for example, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) and boomers (people born from about 1946 to 1964).  The one constant is developing a level of trust – more about this can be found in an intriguing article from Stanford Social Innovation Review.

But dig a little deeper into each market, and the similarities are not at all consistent.  Just look at some data from evaluation of each audience:

Giving trends 

According to donor loyalty demographics from Abila, on average, millennials donate $238/year, while boomers donate practically twice as much: $478/year. Is it worth skewing your marketing efforts toward boomers, who could produce a bigger bang for your buck? Maybe, but there are more pieces of the puzzle to consider.

Preferred methods for communication 

The way you get the word out to potential donors matters both to them, and to you. Sending an email or using another form of digital communication will likely be less expensive than printing and mailing a full color piece, for example. That’s good news, because a recent study by Nonprofit Tech for Good of 2016 global giving trends shows that 70% of millennials and 51% of boomers are most inspired to give by either social media or email (not surprisingly, social media is more popular with the millennial at 43%, and email is preferred by 30% of those boomers). There is no doubt in my mind that the global social media audience is on the rise. So, no matter the age of your audience, I highly recommend getting on the social media bandwagon if you haven’t already. You probably can’t eliminate printed materials entirely from your communications plan though. In 2016, printed pieces inspired 17% of boomers and 8 % of millennials to give. 

Top causes 

While interests and causes are certainly personal to each individual, the Abila donor loyalty study I referred to earlier provides a pretty useful generational breakdown of the top three preferred causes each supports. Millennials are fairly equally split among support for families and children (36%); health (34%); and animals (33%). Boomers’ top causes are religious organizations (48%); food and nutrition (41%); and health (39%).

There are certainly many more data you can seek out if interested, but what to do with the information? You can put this data to work for your nonprofit by looking closely at the giving trends within your organization. Track the habits of your donors and compare them with these reports and statistics.  This will provide a more informed, evidence-based decision about the ways to get the message to market.  

Visit the slides from my Phoenix Nonprofit Institute presentation:  Beyond the Brand and discover the wide range of ways to turn data into donors.

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