Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies, writing at The Integrator, looks at the troubling attitudinal disparity between the Gen-Xers who work in fundraising and the Boomer donors they should be communicating with: Mind the Gap
Boomers and Xers have different worldviews, cultural touchstones, and senses of humor. Not surprising given Xers' tendency to define themselves primarily as "not Boomers." And, while Xers arguably dominate among non-profit fundraisers and marketers, Boomers are undeniably the primary target audience. It's just demographically the way it is right now.
As Mark concludes, communications "designed by Xers to engage other Xers ... miss the mark."
This is important. Though it's not a new problem; people doing nonprofit marketing and fundraising have usually been 20 to 50 years younger than their audiences for a very long time. It takes a real act of the imagination to get into the head of someone that much older. It's even harder when you're impressed with your own coolness and think the oldsters just don't get it.
So here's my advice anyone creating fundraising materials in any medium:
If you're "not old":
Remember every day who your donors are. Have a specific older person -- a typical donor -- when you communicate. Keep a photo of someone in their 60s or above at your desk. Remind yourself that if something you do feels extremely cutting edge and cool, there's a good chance it's missing your audience.
If you're "old":
Keep an eagle eye on your younger colleagues. Don't let them market to themselves. Keep the conversation going about what older people are like, what they appreciate and understand, what their life experiences have been. On the other hand, don't be complacent; anyone can lapse into coolness over effectiveness, and chances are your donors are older than you, too.
(See also this post -- which uses the same London Tube reference:Online or off, mind the generation gap.)