Understanding the Generational Divide – Baby Boomers

Last week I started this four-part series delving into the generational divide and how this impacts legacy /

Last week I started this four-part series delving into the generational divide and how this impacts legacy / gifts in wills / planned giving marketing and engagement. The post explored how Traditionalists view the world, what matters to them and what values are important to them.

This week we’ll focus on the wealthiest and largest generation to exist – Baby Boomers. In 2016, it was estimated there were 1.1 billion Baby Boomers globally (approx. 15% of the global population). Unsurprisingly, this represents a huge potential for future philanthropic giving that’s why organizations that still don’t have a robust legacy program are missing out.

Let’s take a look at what makes this generation so special. 

Baby Boomer (1946-1964) 

The Baby Boomer generation is often divided into two groups due to its size, which includes first half and second half boomers. The division is used to distinguish between those born in the 40’s and early 50’s who actively participated in the events of the 60’s and those born in the mid 50’s and early 60’s who were too late to participate in Woodstock and other movements. 

As children of Traditionalist parents, Baby Boomers enjoyed a child-focused upbringing. They were wanted by their parents who had sacrificed in order to be able to indulge them and raise them in a new era of possibilities. As children of the 40’s and 50’s, Baby Boomers grew up in optimistic, positive times. This generation had the highest fertility rates in almost 200 years and the greatest economic expansion.

Baby Boomers were doted on by parents, teachers and their communities. Their sheer numbers influenced the expansion of suburbia and the building of new hospitals and schools. 

Baby Boomers grew accustomed to being in the spotlight

and learnt that due to their size they could influence traditional

systems to bend to accommodate their needs.

Since there were so many of them, it became essential for Baby Boomers to collaborate and cooperate with their peers. 

As Baby Boomers matured they had a strong willingness to prove themselves to their Traditionalist parents who had sacrificed for their freedom. Baby Boomers’ careers become their symbol of value and worth. They worked longer work weeks than generations before them and believed that success would come through continual learning and growth. 

Life Defining Events

Each generational cohort experiences social, economic, and cultural events that shape its mindset and identity. These life-defining events bond people together through a shared coming of age experience. To fully engage with donors of all generations, it’s important to understand the life-defining events that each cohort has experienced to better appreciate the values, characteristics and skills each holds dear.

Baby Boomers saw and lived through:

  • Civil Right movement
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • First tape recorder is sold
  • Assassination of JFK & Martin Luther King
  • Decolonization
  • Beatlemania
  • Vietnam War
  • The Cold War
  • Neil Armstrong landing on the moon
  • Woodstock, free love
  • Television becomes dominant media
  • First detonation of the H-bomb

Impact on legacies

The oldest Baby Boomers in your database will be 75 years old. By now, they will have most likely sorted out their affairs so the probability of getting into that will is diminished. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t market legacies to this group of donors, but it does mean you will have to have realistic expectations.

Key messaging to engage with Baby Boomer donors:

  • Using a respectful and appropriate amount of flattery will resonate with Baby Boomer donors
  • Demonstrate they are key players in the organization’s family
  • Show impact by emphasizing how their donation enable the success to happen
  • Offer ways for them to learn and continue growing, regardless of their age (i.e.: workshops or site visits)
  • Enable them to connect to other like-minded donors

Your database is probably full of Baby Boomers ready and open to having a legacy conversation with you. Get going, there is no time to waste. Use nudges to move them along the reflection of considering a gift in their will while at the same time, showing gratitude for their past giving.

Give them the opportunity to deepen their connection with the organization and with other individuals that are passionate towards the cause. There is little doubt that thanks to these engagement opportunities, they will be happy to help the organization connect with others in their own networks.

Baby Boomers are also very active on social media and will engage with the organization on their social media platforms. Gone are the days where we thought they wouldn’t engage digitally. Some can even be influencers! Check out this article, AARP even shows them how to be influencers.

So get out there and develop a legacy digital marketing strategy specifically for the Baby Boomer generation! 

Come back next week when we explore how Gen Xers differ from Baby Boomers.

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