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Turn to millennials for volunteering, not money. For money there’s Boomers.

For all the fawning people do over millennials, there is one obvious reason to target some of your outreach to them: they volunteer more.

There are a few broad reasons why people give time, money, or their voice. It breaks down into one of four categories:

  • Duty (75+)
  • Identity (55-74)
  • Community (35-55)
  • Problem-solving (18-34)

Millennials have a higher interest in doing something to solve a problem for their community. Boomers, on the other hand, as well as older “Matures” (those 75+) give out of a sense of duty (the Matures), and a sense of responsibility (the Boomers). And since the Boomers control most of the money in this country, they should be where you go for money.

In the middle of this spectrum sits Generation X, which tends to give out of a sense of identity. They donate to the Humane Society therefore they are dog lovers, for example.

This all reminded me of a story I read recently about Indianapolis’ civic engagement being “very low”.

Never mind the story was published about a study done in three cities (Indianapolis, Louisville, and Austin), and the study just measured a handful of responses, and it was “to celebrate the 15th anniversary” of some public policy firm. In other words, it was a junk PR move.

But this didn’t stop the local press from sounding the alarm bells about how we’re doomed. They gave the example of Indy Reads, a local organization that promotes literacy across all age groups.

The study says they’re in trouble because they can’t get anyone young to go sit on a board. Instead, they can only use them as volunteers.

I’ll let you go re-read those two sentences again.

Yeah, an organization in the middle of town that everyone loves and knows about is doomed because all the young people just want to do useless stuff like “volunteering to teach” and “helping people learn to read”. What they really need is a Board summit task force that can karate chop meeting minutes in half.

Don’t be surprised when younger folks want to donate with time, since that’s what they have more access to, and older folks want to donate more money, since that’s what they have more access to.

In fact, armed with this little nugget of information your donor lists, if segmented by generation, can be incredibly useful depending on your needs.

If your donor lists and outreach campaigns can’t readily be targeted by generation, consider segmenting by platform, recognizing that emails better target older folks and Facebook and Twitter are more in tune with younger people.

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Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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