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Feb 5, 2024

Forecasting the Demise of the Boomer Donor

For the past decade or so, when fundraising analysts gather together around the bar at a conference, the discussion invariably leads to a debate on how the generosity of the Boomer generation comes to an end (after we put away our slide rules and stop talking about AI, that is).

One side of the argument is “riding off into the sunset.” This camp believes that their decline in giving to nonprofit organizations will be nearly imperceptible. As the Boomers decline, other younger donors will take their place and no one will notice in terms of revenue effect.

The main argument supporting this outcome is history: The Silent Generation of givers past, and the Builders (AKA as the Greatest Generation) took their place. And as the Builders died off, the Boomers stepped up their giving.

The other side believes in what is called the “cliff” scenario. This camp believes that Boomer giving will suddenly stop and the revenue from Boomers to nonprofit organizations will fall off a cliff.

Their main argument is that the following generations (Gen X, Y & Z) don’t view philanthropy in the same manner and organizations haven’t “cracked the code” on how to cultivate their generosity.

There is evidence supporting both arguments.

Early analyses of this past fall’s results suggest a second year of soft giving in Q4. Donor counts were flat or down, retention was a little lower and it was another tough season for new donor acquisition. Our shop will be digging deeply into the data to learn what’s driving these trends and we promise to report on what we find.

But in the meantime, I’d be curious to know which camp resonates with you?

Image by gstudioimagen1

Image by gstudioimagen1

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