1 min Read
July 3, 2013

Can you reach young people on their terms without alienating older donors?

I recently visited the Foundation Center’s San Francisco office to give a presentation on brandraising. Of the 75 or so people who attended, many of them worked in organizations with no full-time communications staff, and they were hungry to learn ways to do more with less.

A participant who’s thinking of starting a nonprofit asked me a great question: “If my programs are geared for younger people, how can I communicate with them on their terms without putting off older people who might be supporters?”

I’ve been wondering about this issue for a while, and keeping my eyes open for examples of nonprofits that are able to communicate in a way that makes their audiences of all ages feel at home.

It turns out that when you look for them, examples of ‘one size fits all ages’ communications abound. One of my favorite examples is from our client, Hillel. Their program, Ask Big Questions, sparks meaningful conversations on college campuses and has been celebrated and supported by older crowds too. Its language and design is fresh and clear (if I do say so myself), which has universal appeal.

Look around. You’ll find the nonprofit sector abounds with great examples of communications that resonate for audiences of all ages. The trick is to avoid language that’s insidery or alienating, like jargon or acronyms, and design that’s dull or confusing. No matter their age, most people won’t respond particularly well to either.

By the way, I recorded a webinar on brandraising recently that’s online here if you or someone you know is curious what it’s all about. Let me know what you think!