At AmplifyDMC, we are often asked about fund development and engagement strategies to generate support from Millennials. Ideas abound about engaging this socially conscious and globally engaged group who bring energy and innovation to the sector. Not surprisingly, much of our work also involves strategies to increase support from Baby Boomers, who lead the charge as a generation of dedicated philanthropic donors.
So how do Gen Xers (born between 1964-1980) fit into the mix? And why should organizations engage a generation often described as the “middle child”- individualistic, fickle, skeptical, and cynical?
I count myself as part of Gen X and most of my friends are Gen X as well. We are busy juggling the demands of work, raising families, and more and more, taking care of our aging parents. We worry about paying the mortgage, while college tuitions may loom near. Unfortunately, we are not exactly flush with income to designate to philanthropic causes. We are dedicating time to raising money for our children’s schools and expressing our values in support of community organizations and causes. We are testing the waters, determining where we can make a difference as a volunteer and making donations of significance to our current financial situation.
In the next 10 years, Gen Xers will outnumber Baby Boomers. Currently, Gen X makes up more than 20% of the workforce. That percentage will continue to grow as Baby Boomers retire. Their transition to retirement will bring shifting focus to new priorities and causes, which means it is time to be more intentional about engaging Gen X in your fund development approach. Here is what we have determined as being important to Gen Xers:
- Impact – Gen X donors want proof. Facts matter. It’s important to substantiate the effectiveness of your organization with data. Publish an impact report. Link to information about the community issue that your organization influences. Use technology and social media to spread the message.
- Engagement – Gen Xers want to be involved in the organizations they support. They want volunteer opportunities that connect them to the mission. Find ways to engage them directly. Asking them to donate is not enough.
- Relationship — Gen Xers are said to be more fickle than Baby Boomers. If they perceive they are not treated well, they will move on. Invest time cultivating relationships. They may not be your major donors today, but they could become your biggest supporters in the future.
To learn more, here are a couple of excellent resources to leverage: