Ben Coverdale gives his take on the idea that younger people do not make good donors.

When a key speaker at last year’s FIA conference made the above statement, I was reminded that smart people can sometimes say rash things. Here are my top four examples:

William Orton – “The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication”

William Orton was president of Western Union in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell humbly walked into his office to sell him a stake in his brand new invention. I’m sMarch One Image - smallerure he’s rolling in his grave.

Brian Epstein – “The Beatles have no future in show business.”

Poor Brian. The Beatles auditioned to him – their smash hit (to be) Love Me Do – when he famously continued to say: “We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly are finished.” If only someone told One Direction.

Dr. Dionysys Larder – “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”

Dr Dionysys Larder was a highly regarded science writer and academic, in 1828. Obviously, he was monumentally wrong about train travel. Thankfully, too – commuting would be so much harder on horse and cart.

PM Margaret Thatcher – “It will be years, not in my time, before a woman will become Prime Minister.”

As the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, Maggie Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th Century. Even in her passing, the Iron Lady is still one of Britain’s most highly regarded public figures and most loved PMs.

So… what’s my point?

Well, with a rapidly changing communications landscape, a traditional donor base in serious decline and fresh new charities connecting with fresh young donors, now is not a time to shut the door on any market – particularly a younger one.

You only need to look at brands such as Movember, Soi Dog, Humans of New York, the Ice Bucket Challenge and Girls Night In to see that young audiences do, in fact, like to give.

By ignoring them until they’re 40 we not only halve the potential of our audience, we’re leaving a huge gap that more nimble charities are only too happy to fill. So, by the time they do turn 40, they may already be giving to someone else.

Even if the main speaker in question doesn’t regret what they said, I’m worried that you or your charity might.

Ben Coverdale is Creative Director at March One Fundraising.

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