Would you rather hire a 20 something fundraiser or 50 something to give you fundraising advice?
I’d wager damn near every reader instinctively leans to the older guided by the worldview that more days on this Earth likely provides more accumulated knowledge.
Now maybe your reaction was, well it depends. And I’d hazard a guess the contingency was tied to more assumptions – e.g., if I want to attract younger donors, I should get counsel from a younger fundraiser or if I want to use the Tik-Gram or Tok-Face app I should consult a younger fundraiser.
I’d argue the question is irrelevant, it’s like asking if I’d rather hire a short or tall fundraiser.
Imagine you’ve been admitted to the hospital and you’re meeting the physician. Would you rather they be in their 50s with a good amount of gray hair, or in their 30s, just a few years out of residency?
To objectively answer researchers analyzed 737,000 non-elective hospitalizations across 19,000 different hospitalists. They grouped the doctors by four different age cohorts. Older doctors obviously had more years of experience post residency; doctors under 40 had 4.9 post-residency experience vs. 29 years for doctors over 60.
But did age and experience matter to outcomes? Yes, but the man bit the dog.
The researchers compared 30-day mortality rates and found that as doctors got older, their patients had higher mortality rates; under-40 doctors was 10.8% and 12.1% in the over-60 group.
The reason? The younger doctors were more up to date on the latest research and medical advances and the older docs were more stuck in their outdated, diagnostic ruts seeing the same question and offering the same answer.
But, when the researchers controlled for this, the age effect went away. If you want answers on the two most fundamental questions in fundraising, why do people give and is it the same answer for everybody, then your best served finding someone who’s expert at understanding human behavior and stays on top of the latest research and thinking.
If your “experts” answer to those questions is the same today as it was 1, 5, 10…20 years ago, your donor mortality rates will go up. This is diagnostic expertise.
Where does accumulated experience come in handy? Procedural expertise. The same researchers found that doctor age had a positive effect on outcomes in the operating room. Why? If you’ve done 6,731 heart bypass procedures you’ve likely seen the full array of issues that can flummox a more junior surgeon.
Want strategy and different thinking? Find an expert who hasn’t given the same answer to the same questions for the last X years, decades… Want to know the best way to integrate your CRM with plugin Y? Hire an expert whose done it several dozen times.