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The baby boomer generation represents a massive opportunity for Australian gifts in wills fundraisers, but only if they are willing to embrace a new marketing approach. Meg Abdy explains.

 

“We predict that thanks largely to the baby boomers, bequest income will more than double in real terms by 2040.”

Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers are now in their mid-50s through to early 70s. Although no longer the world-changing, free-loving rebels they (perhaps!) used to be, the boomers still exert a powerful influence on society thanks to their sheer numbers and spending power.

For the past 25 years, Legacy Foresight has been researching and analysing the gifts in wills sector, first in the UK, then Holland, and now we’ve added Australia to the mix. All of our research confirms that the boomers are good news for gifts in wills fundraisers, for four main reasons:

  1.  Their sheer scale Four million Australian citizens are currently aged between 55 and 75. And – despite their very best efforts – even they can’t live forever. Over the next 20 years, the number of Australian deaths will climb from 170,000 to 280,000, with the boomers driving much of that increase. Even today, baby boomers account for nearly a quarter of all deaths; by 2040, that proportion will have risen to 63%.
  2. Their assets Like their counterparts in the UK and Holland, Australian boomers have benefited from rising home ownership, more extensive pensions provision and buoyant share prices. Thanks to advances in public education, 19% of Australia’s 60-year-olds have a bachelor degree or above, compared to just 10% of 75-year-olds. That feeds through into increased wealth – Australian boomers comprise 21% of the population but hold 43% of the wealth. In Britain, the pattern is even more extreme, with 22% of the population owning 52% of the assets. No wonder the millennials are aggrieved!
  3. Their family circumstances Some 15% of 50-something Australian women are childless compared to just 8% of women in their 80s. We know that child-free people are especially important when it comes to gifts in wills – they are more likely to include a charitable bequest and that gift is likely to be bigger. Child-free boomers are also more willing to flout conventions about who to leave their money to – weighing up the needs and merits of favourite charities compared to those of far-flung nephews and nieces.
  4. Boomers are more open to leaving a gift in their will Paradigm Shift’s 2016 survey for the Include a Charity campaign showed that 13% of 65-to-69 year-olds who had a will had included a charity, compared to just 5% of those aged 75-plus. This echoed our UK research, which found that 44% of all British 60-to-75 year-olds are open to the idea of leaving a charitable bequest, compared to just 35% of the 75-plus crowd.

Bringing all the information together, our team has produced forecasts of the Australian gifts in wills sector for the next 20 years. We predict that thanks largely to the baby boomers, bequest income will more than double in real terms by 2040. That means twice as much to spend on those wonderful projects, places and people you support!

DEMANDING FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

But while the boomers are a vital gifts in wills audience, they are no pushovers. They pride themselves on being confident and demanding donors – even from beyond the grave! They expect personalised service and need to feel in control. They want information to aid their choices, and they appreciate straight-talking rather than flattery.

When it comes to gifts in wills in particular, they desire proof that a charity intends to spend any money given wisely. Their natural cynicism means that charities will have to work harder to prove the value and effectiveness of their actions.

To satisfy this important new generation of bequest donors, charities will need to adopt a new marketing approach. As strategy consultant Kate Jopling points out in her article, ‘Will the voluntary sector embrace the age of opportunity?’ (New Philanthropy Capital), charities must begin “moving on from an ethos of ‘you give, we do’ to building lifelong, mutually beneficial relationships with their supporters.”

The prize, both for fundraisers and donors, is enormous. Not even the boomers can live forever – but by inspiring them to include your charity in their wills, you can help them live on forever.


Meg Abdy
Meg is the head of program and business development for UK consulting firm Legacy Foresight. Based in Yorkshire, Meg has a particular interest in donor research, in-memory giving and international markets. She was the featured guest speaker at the Include a Charity Week events in Australia in September.

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