In our work we emphasize the need to study the marketplace. You need to be sure that the market you are counting on is a reality. But things change and the “reality” we perceive can turn out to be an illusion. Here’s one example we need to be particularly wary of: the hope that as they age, the Baby Boomer generation will give a much needed boost to our fundraising programs.
Yes, many of us are waiting for the retiring Boomers to become our big new group of contributors. But who will save the Boomers? It seems that as a group, Boomers were pretty poor planners for their futures and many are in real trouble. Whatever the exact statistics, we can probably count on only a modest percentage of them being able to support non-profit organizations, while the others may need help. We need to find and target those boomers with the dependable income to support us.
“New Poll Reveals a Future of Financial Worries For Many of Us” states a headline from an article about Boomers’ retirement and investment plans. In this poll, among the noteworthy findings for fundraisers are:
- 44% of Americans born between 1946 and 1965 are not confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
- 57% say they lost money in the economic downturn and have to delay retirement.
- About 55% have some confidence that they’ll be able to live comfortably during retirement.
- More than two-thirds of these with higher income feel ready for retirement (we’d better learn how to find these people).
- Median retirement savings is at $40,000 (due to a quarter of this population having saved nothing). Among those who have saved something, the median savings is $100,000. (Again we need to find the group above the median.)
According to this article there are about nine things Boomers could do right now to help themselves. You can read about the eight others in the article, but one is: What you’re paying for in comfort today, you won’t be able to afford tomorrow. So scale back your lifestyle!
Well, I don’t need to tell you we need to make sure that “scaling back your lifestyle” does not include curtailing giving to non-profit organizations. And we definitely need to identify those who do NOT have to scale back.
This is a good illustration of how important it is to know what is and isn’t our market and how it can change, and to make sure what we perceive is not an illusion. Most importantly, we must adapt our planning and execution to what is happening rather than to what we wish were happening or the ways things used to be. That’s the only way to succeed. Otherwise, we’ll always be looking for reasons why something didn’t work.
If you would like to share any of your experiences in dealing with the real or illusory marketplace, please pass them along to us or comment below.