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Millennials or Boomers? By Heather M. Day

We’re chasing Millennials…while Boomers need our attention!

Who really does need the most attention, millennials or boomers?

My birth year falls right on the cusp of two generations, and like any good marketeer, I use the published discrepancies to my advantage.  If I’m trying to impress someone younger and cooler than me, I’ll claim membership in their age club.  If I’m trying to pull off the whole “older and wiser” bit or trying to distance myself from the latest nasty headline, I scoff among the X-ers.

And boy oh boy are there a lot of headlines about Millennials!

  • How do we please Millennials?
  • How do we tame them?
  • How do we understand them?
  • How do we mobilize them?
  • And how in the world do we convert them into donors?

These are all great questions and certainly deserve solid research and well thought out answers.  However, while we’re all out here chasing Millennials, 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day. Every. Single. Day.

In other words, every 24 hours, 10,000 people enter the stage in life where they are most likely to have the capacity and the propensity to become your best donors through planned gifts.

What is a Planned Gift?

Simply put, planned gifts are any gifts that require advanced planning or the expertise of a legal or financial professional to complete. They are smart, flexible, cost-effective ways for donors to increase their potential impact, often while benefitting their families, too.

Common planned gifts include:

  • Gifts in a will or trust
  • Lifetime income agreements (such as charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts)
  • Gifts of non-cash assets (such as stock, real estate, retirement assets, or personal property)

And for most nonprofit organizations, planned gifts are game changers.

The size of planned gifts generally dwarfs any amount given in cash gifts, significantly boosting the bottom line and increasing your capacity for ministry. Your average small to mid-level donor is likely able to multiply their total lifetime giving – several times over – simply by including you as a beneficiary in their will.

Primed for Planned Giving

So who are your best planned giving prospects? For starters they are generous, mission-driven people who care deeply about your ministry. This mindset knows no age limit!

They are also …

  • Ages 65 or older
  • Mid-to-high net worth
  • Possess commonly gifted non-cash assets (such as stock, real estate or retirement assets)
  • Thinking about their legacy
  • Preparing to transfer their wealth to the people and causes they hold dear
  • Have no children as dependents (the #1 predictor of planned gifts!)

Statistically speaking, Baby Boomers are the most likely age group to check ALL of these boxes. So, really… shouldn’t they have at least a little more of our focus?

Ready and Able

Make no mistake… it’s critical to our fundraising and future ministry success that we understand, serve and involve Millennials as much as possible.  However, we shouldn’t get so focused on the horizon that we miss the harvest that’s happening in the here and now.

Faith-led Baby Boomers are ready and able to gift billions of dollars for the advancement of Kingdom causes.

They just need a little more of our attention to do so.

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Heather M. Day is the director of marketing for Barnabas Foundation, where she helps provide planned giving marketing strategy and resources to 200 member ministries.  She has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit communications, including nine years as director of marketing communications for Olivet Nazarene University, followed by two years as director of communications for Lead Like Jesus.

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