Weekly Roundup – Avoiding Age-Based Stereotypes

Weekly Roundup – Avoiding Age-Based Stereotypes

Time Magazine got attention this week by releasing an issue with a cover story about the Me Me Me Generation. The premise of the article is that millennials are a selfish and narcissistic generation that will ultimately provide positive output. Since Time published their article, The Atlantic provided a thoughtful response highlighting the numerous magazine covers that describe the young people of that generation as a selfish and narcissistic bunch.

For nonprofit organizations, there are age-related stereotypes that are used too often:

  • Only young donors, volunteers, and staff understand the latest technology
  • Millennials can’t dedicate the time necessary to have an impact in a leadership volunteer role
  • It is hard to attract older donors because they’re already committed to other causes
  • Older donors, volunteers, and staff are behind on the times and don’t embrace changing technology

These stereotypes, like all generalizations, can undermine a nonprofit’s ability to maximize their impact. When you marginalize any generation or age group into a cliche and build policy around it, you’re hampering your ability to grow.

We have spoken with nonprofit organizations that have said they don’t invest much time in digital communication strategies because the population they serve is older. While this may be a valid decision for some organizations because of limited resources, building a policy based on generalizations, not data, is a bad business practice. What are the digital communication needs and preferences from your donors? How do people find out about your organization? How do you connect and collaborate with like-minded organizations? 

By using generalizations and stereotypes, nonprofits run the risk of abandoning a potential donor and volunteer base they didn’t know was available. News was released this week that volunteering by seniors is at a ten-year high. 20 million senior volunteers gave nearly three billion of hours of service, at a value of $67 billion. Meanwhile, a great deal of data published last summer shows that millennials are generous with time and limited income.

Every donor, volunteer, and constituent is different – just like every person in a given generation. Don’t allow broad generalizations to change your strategy. Take the time to understand your audience and craft your communication to them.

Below are other bits of information for the week. We invite you to follow our Tumblr account for additional news.

  • Mashable investigates how small businesses are using Google Hangouts to help promote their business and build relationships with customers. There are many ways a nonprofit organization can use those tool to build relationships with volunteers or highlight their work.
  • The Harvard Business Review provided a thoughtful piece that addresses some of the challenges of corporate donations after a national tragedy.
  • Simon Mainwaring of Forbes writes about the impact and importance that businesses can have on social change.
  • YouTube released a fun new feature – a trends map. You can see what videos are most popular by geography or demographic. Warning: this is pretty fascinating and can absorb a great deal of time.

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