The most transformational philanthropy, and the most meaningful contributions, are driven by deep donor passions. But according to a 2014 UBS Investor Watch survey, “Doing well at doing good,” 70 percent of baby boomers with $1 million in investable assets cited personal responsibility as the main reason for making a contribution. Only 33 percent cited being passionate about the cause.

In other words, seven out of 10 high-net-worth boomers contribute because they feel they ought to, while only three out of 10 contribute because they feel it is deeply meaningful. Consider the incredible opportunity this creates for development professionals.

With 76.4 million baby boomers* making up approximately one-fourth of the U.S. population, you’ll be looking to this generation to contribute to your organization, projects, and programs in the coming years.

How can you engage baby boomer donors in ways that help them transform their loyalty gifts into passion-based contributions that are deeply meaningful?

Show the Impact Now

When asked what philanthropic causes they donated to in the last year, boomers cited helping the less fortunate as their top priority—followed by fighting diseases, alma mater, and education.

These trends indicate that boomers want their contributions to make a difference for people. As you engage potential boomer donors, consider how can you create opportunities for them to see the impact they could make on others. Would a tour of campus or facilities allow them to witness impact—or need for impact—firsthand? Would a meeting with leadership help them envision impact? Would a meeting with the people who would be directly impacted inspire them? The list goes on.

Steward to Deepen Commitment

Creating Return on Philanthropic Investment (ROPI) is critical for donors of all generational groups. It inspires deeper commitment, leading to larger and more frequent contributions during the donor’s lifetime. ROPI is perhaps even more effective with boomer donors, whose dedication to the work they do in their professional careers is a “hallmark” of their generation. They are eager to dedicate themselves to worthy causes.

Apply this sense of dedication to philanthropy by considering ways to inspire ever-deeper commitment to your organization, project, or program. Focus your stewardship efforts in order to help them see themselves as part of your organization. Share stories that relate the real impact their contributions are making.

Whatever donor development strategy you choose to use with baby boomer donors, make sure that you remember the platinum rule:

Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.

As you think about ways to engage your current baby boomer donors and future potential donors, what are you doing to make that experience as meaningful as possible? Share your experiences on social media.


Baby boomers were born 1946–1962; Other generations include the Silent Generation (1925–1945), Generation X (1963–1980), and millennials (1981–2002). (from Generations: The Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit by Peter C. Brinckerhoff)