Why do you REALLY want millennial donors?

“We need younger donors,” seems to be the battle cry du jour from the C-suite lately, so it bears repeating: Millennials only contribute 11 percent of all money donated by individuals each year. Compare that with the more than 75% that comes from Boomers and their elders.

And in the immortal words of Monty Python, we’re not dead yet. Half of the Boomer generation is still in their 50s. That’s only the beginning of the prime giving years. For the foreseeable future, Boomers and Xers will rule the philanthropic landscape.

When we dig a little deeper into CEOs’ (and Boards’) obsession with getting a chunk of the young’uns’ 11 percent, the real answer often comes down to vanity. Do you want to see your loyal army of supporters as the gathering of grey-haired ex-hippies that they are? Or would you rather envision your constituency as young, beautiful, and bursting with the energy and hubris of youth?

It’s understandable, just wrong-headed.

And maybe age doesn’t matter at all. One digital marketer makes a pretty compelling argument for side-stepping generational segmentation altogether.

He writes:

“From my vantage point, the differences among Boomers, Gen X and Millennials are few and far between … It’s time to stop worrying about your millennial strategy while ignoring Boomers. Let’s move past age-based demographics that don’t hold much weight in today’s America.”

The author recommends focusing on communities built from shared values and interest, regardless of age. And spending more time recruiting and activating evangelists than hewing to a demographic game plan that became obsolete 20 or 25 years ago.

Does that mean you should ignore millennials altogether? No. Hell no. But if you’re expecting a quick payout for your investment, you’re on the wrong track.