Millennials vs. Boomers: Do They Speak the Same Language?

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 1.28.51 PMOn Friday of the Bridge conference I attended “The Donors of Tomorrow: Effective Ways to Engage Millennials,” along with another demographic-based session: “Boom! How the Baby Boomers Will Transform Philanthropy.” I wasn’t planning to compare the content of the two sessions, but once I heard what Rachel Clemens, Heath Ledger, Kn Moy, and Mike Browne had to say, it was impossible not to.

As our industry clamors to learn more about Millennials’ and Boomers’ needs, desires, and habits, we may be overlooking the fact that the two generations have more in common than we think. The presenters at both sessions emphatically stated that if you build around either of these demographics, then you build for the entire donor spectrum.

If you design for one end of the donor spectrum, you design for all? While I’m still a bit skeptical, there’s no denying that when you want to reach Millennials and Boomers, there’s quite a bit of overlap in where they are and what they want. I was surprised to hear how similar the advice was for the two groups. Here are a few tips:

Meet them where they are.

Well, no shock here: they’re all online. You might think of Millennials when you think about social media and mobile apps. But don’t forget: Boomers spend more money online than any other generation!

Be concise.

Apparently it’s not just the youngins’ who have a dwindling attention span! We’re talking less than 10 seconds here—for all ages.

Be authentic.

Both groups identify with brands and can identify when they’re being marketed to a mile away. Presenter Kn Moy suggested focusing 80% of communications on brand/passion communications. You can’t just ask either group for money. Both need to be stewarded and have a connection with your brand before they will consider making a gift. Speaking of stewarding…

Experiences are king.

Both Boomers and Millennials place value in this thing called the Experience Economy. Tote bags and mugs are okay, but events and volunteer opportunities build the connections both groups are looking for (and lead to connection and identification with your cause).

What differences—or similarities—have you noticed among your own Boomer or Millennial donors?

  • Posted by Alanah Rosenbloom
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One Response to Millennials vs. Boomers: Do They Speak the Same Language?

  1. Susan Golden says:

    Excellent! Well written! Fascinating…. I learned so much from this.

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