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Is Altruism an Endangered Attribute?New Survey Terms iPad Owners “Selfish Elites”

What if the “I” in “iPad” turned out to be Gordon “Greed is good” Gekko from the movie WALL STREET?

While we don’t know if Gordon really has an iPad, we’re sure he’s out there, at least in spirit, because results from a recent survey of iPad owners by MyType seem to show that his real-world confreres make up a hefty proportion of those who have purchased this trendy new tech toy.

Specifically, as reported by Eliot Van Buskirk in the 7/27/2010 edition of Wired.Com, the survey conducted this spring by MyType (a consumer research firm specializing in personality inventories) indicated that:

“iPad owners tend to be wealthy, sophisticated, highly educated and disproportionately interested in business and finance, while they scored terribly in the areas of altruism and kindness. In other words, ‘selfish elites.’

The Opposite of a Donor

Presumably individuals who self-report in such a way as to generate these results don’t worry much about being “jerks” (to use one popular technical term). And also presumably Apple doesn’t care how altruistic their customers are just as long as they pay for their iPad.

But these conclusions about iPad owners might be of some concern to fundraisers. Why? Because altruism is our business – you might even say it’s our bread and butter, not to mention the mainspring of endowment growth and organizational success.

So any spike in the Scrooge population is bad medicine.

Also, consider some of the other descriptors of iPad owners: Wealthy, sophisticated, highly-educated; and right on the cutting edge of information technology. So you might think of them as a good prospect for charitable giving, especially when solicited via e-marketing vectors. But only if you ignore the fact that they are selfish and unkind!

Those Who Wait Get More of the Same?

If we are starting to make you feel a little gloomy, brace yourself for another depressing factoid: The age range for these “selfish elite” respondents in the MyType survey was 30 to 50 years old. That means they represent the tail end of the Boomers plus Generation X plus the beginning of Generation Y.

So fundraisers can look forward to these individuals passing through the charitable landscape clutching their iPads for the next 30 to 40 years. And that’s not a pretty picture.

So is our world coming to an end…again?

Going Forward with Plenty of Lemonade

The good news is: Not only is it never too late, but strategizing for the future can begin right now. The MyType survey may be unwelcome news for fundraisers, but it’s also news we can use.

Do we really have to give up on this unkind iPad cohort? Not yet.

Consider:
• These people are highly educated; they went to school somewhere, and those institutions will have some special leverage in reaching them. Perhaps some selfish alumn would cherish having a big portrait of himself painted on the side of a new business school building he has endowed.
• Similarly, their enthusiasm for technology, business and finance, and wealth in general represents a chink in their armor. Suggest, for example, that they support state-of-the-art information technology for your hospital’s billing department. Also, they have professional affiliations, so they might smile on funding an accountancy internship with a Wall Street firm.
• The fact that they are tech-savvy means you can access them with smart messaging via whatever new techie medium happens to be hot. If you meet them on the cutting edge, you may catch them with their egos down.
• Individuals who are ostentatiously selfish and unkind at age 35 may find themselves experiencing a change of heart as they mature. You can help them make that change. Remember, only one night’s worth of powerful messaging turned Mr. Scrooge around completely!

The results of the MyType survey only really support one conclusion: that some people are a lot harder to market to than others. And we knew that already.

So the challenge to fundraisers hasn’t really changed, it’s just been brought into sharper focus. The nonprofit organizations that will grow their endowment and accomplish their missions in the future will be those with creative and energetic fundraising professionals on staff who use their talent and drive to succeed in closing gifts regardless of resistance among their prospects… and whether or not they’re iPad owners.

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