The latest report from Pew Research says 72% of online adults are using social network sites. But perhaps most striking, those ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social sites in the last four years — from 13% in 2009 to 43% now.

That’s good news. It means there’s another channel through which to place our causes and needs in front of a segment of the public that is traditionally very attuned to bettering the world around them.

But before you online fundraisers get all giddy and delirious out there, celebrating the coming convergence of seniors’ social media savvy with their prime time of life for giving, let’s keep in mind that many more seniors — I’ll bet far more than are fluent with social media — can still barely browse the web and use email.

I spent some time today with a couple of 65+ friends who just bought a new computer … they had their last one about eight years! How quaint, you’re thinking. They’re struggling to get their email to work properly (as in, they can’t even find emails they know they’ve recently sent or received), what with all the built-in ‘features’ that clever 22-year-old programmers build into these things (more on that below!).

And my in-laws, in the 80+ category, recently had to resort to private in-home ‘tutorials’ to figure out their new system.

Mind you, these four are each highly educated and seasoned political activists and donors, with fingers into all sorts of causes and charities. But I don’t expect you’ll find any of them on Facebook … ever.

My observation is not meant to discourage use of social media; just to introduce a dose of reality into the picture. While you’re dabbling in social media, don’t forget to do things like offering larger font sizes on your website … and keep your online response pages very clean and simple. First things first.

And then, what to do about social media and seniors?

Awhile back, I pointed you to AARP and their very extensive social media efforts aimed at the 50+ population. Of course they have far more resources to devote to wooing and activating seniors via social media than — I suspect — any other fundraisers reading this post.

I’ll stick by my advice at the time. Watch what they do. Adapt what makes sense for your circumstances. In other words … steal!

Tom

P.S. An example of 22 year-old developers gone amok is Gmail’s new system that pre-sorts your incoming email for you, probably presumptively dumping your favorite email-fed blogs and newsletters, like The Agitator, in Promotions limbo!

If you’re a Gmail user and this is happening to you, try this …

Go to the new Promotions tab, and drag an email from The Agitator into your “Primary” inbox.

After you do that, you’ll get an alert that asks you if you want to do this for future emails. Click “Yes!” and you won’t miss any of our daily posts! Don’t let Gmail come between us!

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