Food for Thought

I am a proud member of the sandwich generation. I’ve been in that club for quite some time, but it’s never been more obvious than right now, when I’m simultaneously coaching my mother through her second knee-replacement recovery while supporting my daughter through her first real crush and prom date.

What’s most poignant about this current state of life is the striking contrast in the communication styles between my elderly mother and my teenage daughter – and it’s all about technology. If I’m going to be helpful to my mother I need to be right there with her; in person and face to face. No phone calls or emails will suffice. In contrast, connecting with my daughter means I get out my cell phone and text her or post a message on her Facebook page. She moves much faster than my mother and is harder to keep up with, so I use a means of communication that I know will get through to her.

I’d be willing to bet that this same contrast appears in your pool of donors and constituents. Based on the multitude of articles about philanthropy going mobile, you’re likely already accommodating the way younger donors give or are likely to give in the future. But at the same time, your older donors may still prefer to give in the traditional way – following a mailing, phone call, or personal visit and using a good old-fashioned check.

So, you too are in the sandwich generation. You need to accommodate the needs and wishes of both older and younger donors and reach out to them using the channels they’re most comfortable with –and again, it’s all about technology. And this begs one very simple question: do you actually know how old your donors are?

If you do, then you’re well-positioned for this challenge. You’ll be able to easily segment your database and use the most appropriate communication channels available for each age group. If you don’t have age data for your constituents, then perhaps it’s time to consider getting a data overlay to obtain it. There are many companies who offer this type of service. If you need recommendations, post a question on our forums or better yet, post a comment to this article and see if other readers have some advice to offer.