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Making Certain Senior Discounts Count

MFG Archive, Profiles

David Harrison introduces the potential for using senior discounts as a force for good and a novel approach to fundraising.


3.5 million Baby Boomers across America are turning 65 this year. Countless retailers provide them and other older Americans discounts that some want and need and some do not. Our new organization, Boomerang Giving, is devising approaches that would enable discounts to be voluntarily redirected (Boomeranged!) to nonprofits at point of sale. This growing movement is an opportunity to give back, to spur community building efforts, turn millions of citizens into everyday engaged philanthropists, and provide essential nonprofit support.

The process is easy and enables an informed decision by the gift giver.

We can do this all with “found money”, the $3 movie discount stuffed in the pocket, or the reduced bus fare that ends up in the change drawer. Of tens of millions eligible, even 200,000 people redirecting their discounts would generate $144 million. Because of the source of the funds, we believe much of this giving will not supplant and thus be over and above present giving levels.


Our site is the first of what will be several efforts by us to spur this movement, which since mid-November has already generated engagement in all 50 states and the emergence of several local Boomerang projects.


The process is easy and enables an informed decision by the gift giver. On the mobile friendly site, participants can “pledge” to redirect their discounts or otherwise indicate their interest in standing with us. They can explore several sources on the site look for discounts with which they might not be familiar and which they could redirect to nonprofit organizations. They can use Guide Star’s extensive database to assess a million possible organizations of interest. They can utilize a discount calculator to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything. They can “save up” their discounts for a month and then send the accumulated amount directly to their preferred charities. Finally, they can use Network for Good on the Boomerang Giving website to make the immediate donation easily and securely.


Over time, the emergence of credit and debit card Boomerang approaches and digital Boomeranging will carry the day. These Boomerang Giving strategies have been inaccurately compared to “rounding up” at the supermarket or the Amazon Smile program, which returns a half percent of the purchase price to the designated nonprofit. In contrast, Boomerang secures impact in a much more powerful and productive way, since senior discounts ranging to 30% or 40% of the retail transaction are common.


My wife Cindy and I founded Boomerang Giving with five other community leaders from Seattle and Bainbridge Island, Washington. Contact information can be found at

Many thanks to David Harrison for sharing the work of Boomerang Giving, and the potential for simple, effective ways for seniors to be engaged in supporting their communities. Be sure to follow Boomerang Giving on Twitter, and for more interesting insights, check out their recent feature in Forbes.

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