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The Next Generation of American Giving, Blackbaud 2013

Did you know that Baby Boomers contribute 43% of all charitable giving? In fact, Baby Boomers control 70% of Americans’ disposable income, yet only 5% of advertising is geared toward their age group.

Is your nonprofit organization adequately targeting them and marketing to them effectively?


Let’s look at some important data on marketing to Boomers - those born between 1946 and 1964 (ages 49-67) who are poised to make up half the U.S. population in 2017. (Nielsen)


  • They are integrating digital media into their daily lives, and quickly. (Nielsen)
  • Their growth rate in adoption and use of information and communications technology is higher than – and in some cases surpassing – that of younger generations. (Forbes)
  • They are more likely to use a desktop computer, have a landline and watch traditional TV. They spend 174 hours per month watching TV (significantly more than Millennials’ 107 hours per month) and are the dominant audience in 16 of the top 25 shows.
  • Boomers between 47 and 55 years old spend in excess of 40 hours online each month. (Forrester)
  • 54% of Boomers/seniors watch online video, compared with 65% of the general population. (Reaching Today’s Boomers and Seniors Online)
  • Facebook is the most used social network, with membership on par with that of the general population. (Reaching Today’s Boomers and Seniors Online)
  • Mobile usage is still developing among Boomers and seniors: 29% use a smartphone regularly (compared with 48% of the general population), and 19% regularly use a tablet (compared with 25% of the general population). (Reaching Today’s Boomers and Seniors Online)
  • The majority of Boomers (87%) use email; 81% use YouTube; 71% use Facebook, and 46% use LinkedIn. (Blackbaud)
  • Common activities seniors and Boomers engage in on social networks include following groups/organizations (55%), posting/watching videos (40%), supporting causes (26%), and joining groups (23%).
  • The percentage of U.S. Boomers on the mobile web is predicted to surpass 50% this year, reaching 28.8 million. (eMarketer)
  • 49% of adults 50+ own tablet computers.


  • Boomers give an average of $1212 per year across 4.5 charities. They are also the largest contributors. (Blackbaud)
  • More than 40% of all money donated comes from Americans aged 49 to 67. (Blackbaud)

  • The majority of Boomers (38%) give to their places of worship, with 36% giving to local social services. (Blackbaud)
  • Boomers increasingly give online (as opposed to by mail). (Blackbaud)

  • They like cause-related marketing – where a portion of the purchase price goes to a cause or charity. (Blackbaud)

The Next Generation of American Giving, Blackbaud 2013


  • Boomers are adventurous. They have more time and money than ever to pursue new experiences. (Fast Company article)
  • Boomers are self-reliant. (Fast Company article)
  • Boomers connect with youth. “They don’t want to just be the weathered old people sitting on the front porch passively watching their grandchildren play in the front yard. They want to be there with them.”  (Brent Green, author of Generation Reinvention, (Fast Company article)
  • Don’t call Baby Boomers ‘elderly’, and don’t assume they’re going to end up in a ‘nursing home’. To do so could undermine your overall marketing messages. (
  • Boomers are “anti-authoritarian,” according to generational targeted marketing expert Ann Fishman. This means they don’t respond as well to celebrity endorsements as other groups do, but prefer to consume messages that reflect their own expertise and value. (TMR Direct)
  • Most Boomers feel up to nine years younger than their real age, and that they believe they only reach “old” age once they hit 72 years. (Pew Social Trends)

 My 7 Nonprofit Boomer Marketing Tips:

1. The top 3 ways that Boomers want to be engaged with your organization is: your org’s Web site (28%), receiving emails and/or eNewsletters (26%), and receiving information in the mail (25%). (stats from Blackbaud)

2. The top 3 ways to engage Boomers online is to: get them to sign an online petition (52%), view charity videos (28%), listen to an audio or Podcast from your charity (18%). (stats from Blackbaud)

3. Put your social media campaigns to Boomers into perspective - only 27% follow charities on social media. (stats from Blackbaud)

4. Don’t put too much money into mobile marketing just yet. Mobile applications received low rankings (3%) from donors as a communications priority overall. (stats from Blackbaud)

5. Put marketing efforts into word-of-mouth marketing - 31% of Boomers are very comfortable with it, but only bring it up when asked. (stats from Blackbaud)

6. Appeal to Boomers’ sense of adventure, sentimentality, and humor. Nielsen research finds that “Boomers prefer clever, light-hearted humor (rather than mean-spirited) and relatable characters who are Boomers themselves or not much younger. The tone should be positive—avoiding words like ‘don’t.’ For Boomer males, clever wit and calm dialogue-driven storylines work. For Boomer females, family-friendly humor and sentimental themes resonate best.”

7. Develop a multichannel marketing strategy that takes this data into account. Test your tactics, tweak them accordingly, and consistently measure your efforts.

Got any more to add to my list?

Additional Resources:

Marketing To Baby Boomer And Senior Customers - Part I (MediaPost Publications)

Marketing To Baby Boomer And Senior Customers - Part II

Digital Marketers: Don’t Forget the Boomers (Business to Community)


Generational Giving, The Charitable Habits of Generation Baby Boomers and Matures (Blackbaud Slideshare presentation)

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