Cracking the Generation X code

While attending the Conference’s Board’s semi-annual Community Impact Symposium, I was reminded that Generation X has the highest rate of volunteerism (29%) beating out Boomers and Millennials. This statistic gave me a feeling of smug satisfaction.

As a member of Generation X that spent 22 years as an executive with a global nonprofit focused on volunteerism and civic engagement, I remember my generation being dismissed as “Slacktivists” – willing to like a cause on Facebook and not much else. Despite more than a decade of proof that we’re not deadbeats, the image stuck and media overlooked us for good. Marketers and Nonprofits alike went from clamoring for the attention of Boomers to Millennials.

The thing is, skipping over Gen X is a huge missed opportunity. Not only do we have tremendous purchasing power, both in terms of disposable income and influence, but we’re also poised to assume the mantle of leadership in complex organizing for social and political change.

There are 60 million Gen Xers. We were born between 1960 and 1980 – and are now 36 to 56 years old. We represent 25% of all adults in the U.S. OK, so we’re the third largest generation in our country. (next to Millennials and Boomers), but according to American Express, Gen X has more spending power than any other generation, with 29% of estimated net worth dollars and 31% of total income dollars.

On top of having the most money to burn, Gen X is more influential than you think. Often, we’re the ones making spending decisions for our Millennial and Gen Z kids as well as our Boomer parents. According to Pew Research Center, forty-seven percent (47%) of Gen Xers are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older) and also have a parent age 65 or older. About 15% of us are already providing financial support to both a child and an aging parent. On top of that, we save more than other generations. We’re more likely than other groups to focus on our own financial independence, buying homes, minimizing taxes, saving college tuition for our kids, estate planning and entrepreneurship. We worry about crime, climate change, health and wellness, the rising costs of living and being able to save enough for retirement.

Since the last time you looked at us, dismissing us as Slacktivist Spicoli’s and Lebowski’s, we’ve developed a complex understanding of social issues and global politics. We’re more likely to understand why the UNDP’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals are inextricably linked and work together to alleviate global poverty. We understand why campaign finance reform is important and why it’s more important to give money, phone bank and canvas than it is to post a yard sign supporting a political candidate.

We can buy your products, donate to your organization – even volunteer our time. Here’s what we expect in return:

Flexibility: We’re juggling a lot. Give us options.
Efficiency: Don’t waste our time. Use it well. Make your call to action easy and seamless.
Relevance: We value sincerity, authenticity, context and personalization. Help us understand how your CTA is relevant to our lives.
Connection: Make us like you.
Security: Show us how your product or service can protect our homes, the planet, our families, our savings, etc.

a list of characteristics that describe matchfire

We are technologically savvy. We are brand loyal. We are unquestionably mighty.

Still want to concentrate solely on those Millennials?

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