Posted June 1st, 2014

Guess Who’s Turning 50?

Fifty years ago this year marked the year the last of the baby boomers were born and the first year of the Ford Mustang. Just like the iconic car, baby boomers aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

A spectacular birthday party.

Mustang turns 50How do you place a Ford Mustang on the observation deck of the Empire State Building? With no crane able to lift a car to the 86th floor (over 1,000 feet) and a helicopter lift deemed too dangerous, Ford engineers had to get creative. A team of workers divided the Mustang into three parts small enough to fit in the building’s elevators and then reassembled the car on the 86th floor observation deck.

But why go to this herculean effort, and not once, but twice? Back in 1965, Ford was attempting to rev up its image. The sleek and sporty Ford Mustang was designed to speak to a whole new generation of baby boomer drivers. In an ambitious marketing stunt, Ford displayed its new car on top of what was then the world’s tallest building.

In April of this year, Ford recreated the event to celebrate the Mustang’s 50th birthday. The yellow 2015 Ford Mustang was on display for two days on the 86th floor observation deck before being disassembled yet again.

Boomers still booming.

The Ford Mustang is not alone in turning 50 this year. 1964 was the final year of the 1946-1964 span that marked the births of the baby boomers, the youngest of whom turn 50 this year. Still an estimated 76 million members strong and some 25 percent of the population, boomers have always been and continue to be a significant philanthropic, economic and cultural force.

Now 50 to 68 years old, boomers are at the peak of their earning potential. Many are still enjoying good health and have no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Used to being leaders, boomers have become a strong force in philanthropy. A recent study of charitable giving habits across generations found that boomer donors account for just  34 percent of all donors yet are responsible for 43 percent of all charitable gifts, the largest share of any generation.

charitable giving chart

Reaching out.

Like the Mustang, the youngest boomers are still going full speed. Even the oldest boomers, though approaching 70, are likely to enjoy lifespans of 15 or more years. Most are years away from making their final estate plans, but many who are nearing retirement will now have an interest in learning about gift annuities and other gifts that generate income that can help supplement their retirement years.

Given their numbers, their philanthropic bent and the fact that they enjoy life expectancies of 18 to 30 years or more, baby boomers can be expected to remain an important force in the philanthropic world for decades to come.

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