As I write this, David Bowie died less than two days ago…

I’m surprised at how hard his passing hit me. His Ziggy Stardust concert was one of the first I’d ever attended as a 15 year-old wannabe rock and roller teenager from the Ottawa Valley backwater of Renfrew, Ontario. And, David Bowie was a 24 year-old phenomenon from South London.

I’ll never, ever forget that opening guitar riff of ‘Rebel Rebel’ that echoed through the old Ottawa Civic Centre that night. I was mesmerized. I was thrilled. A whole new world was opening up to me – or so it felt that night.

That concert – and many more like it – feels like yesterday. This morning, I can’t believe he’s gone. Truth be told, I was never David Bowie’s biggest fan. And he wasn’t my favourite rocker by any means: Keith Richards and Eric Clapton owned those spots.

I’ve known from years of research that as we age, we come to truly accept our own mortality as we experience the passing of others in our own cohort. As siblings, high school friends, colleagues from our age group die, we begin to truly understand that this is going to happen to us.

I think that Bowie’s death has suddenly put me in this zone. He was 69 – one of the oldest of the Baby Boomer generational cohort. Today, I’m 60 – smack dab in the middle of the Boomer Generation.

So what do David Bowie and I have to do with legacy giving? Why should fundraisers who are looking to market bequests from their donors care about Bowie’s death or my love of rock and roll?

Because, my friends, we are your new target audience.

Every few years, my Good Works partners and I contract Environics Research to conduct our State of the Legacy Nation donor poll. We survey 1,500 Canadian adults to probe who has wills, who they’ve named as beneficiaries and how big the charitable legacy market is in Canada.

Five or ten years ago, I would have told you that your prime legacy giving prospect was a member of the Civic Generational cohort (born before 1946). These classic ‘direct mail donors’ are generous, religious, loyal and grew up before television (they like paper). I had always assumed that Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1966) would not make charitable bequests the way their parents did.

Well, as Boomers aged, they proved me wrong – in a big way!

In fact, your prime prospect for a charitable bequest today is a member of the older half of the Boomer Generation. In other words, you’re looking for someone between my age and David Bowie’s age.

In fact, Baby Boomers today account for half of all charitable bequests commitments (more than 2 million bequests!) And, the value of these Boomer bequests is $76 billion – which again is half of the $160 billion of all charitable bequests in Canada today.

For years, I asked fundraisers to imagine my fictitious legacy donor named Jacqueline. She was a smiling old white lady in her 70s. Retired secretary. Coiffed hairdo. Churchgoer. Bridge player. Good neighbour. Reliable citizen. In fact, many of you have told me over the years that you’ve printed off Jacqueline’s photo and posted it on a wall near your desk to remind you of who you’re speaking to.

Today, according to our newest research, Jacqueline is no longer the only bequester to watch. Move over Jacqueline. Make room for David Bowie – and for me.