MySeniorCenter Fun Facts

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

In the 1960's a meteorologist named Edward Lorenz created a computer program to help predict weather. He realized that tiny changes in atmospheric conditions could have huge impacts on long-term forecasts. He subsequently wrote a paper asking "Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" Since then, popular science, as well as pop-culture, have used the "Butterfly Effect" to theorize and explain other seemingly unpredictable events. In this issue of Fun Facts, we look at subtle changes that make a big impact on Senior Center growth. In particular, we'll look at a great way to increase your donations, and also some options for increasing membership for those under the age of 70.

Let's have a look.

Welcome to...Fun Facts - the Butterfly Effect edition


Butterfly Kisses

Volunteers are a critical part of any Senior Center operation. Without them, Centers wouldn't be able to run as smoothly, or offer as many programs as they do. Their gift is the most valuable of all: Time. However, they tend to give more than their time; they can be a great source of donations as well! In this graphic, we show the relationship between volunteers and donations.

Volunteers are nearly 400% more likely to donate money to the Center than members who do not volunteer. That's truly amazing.

What About Now

Most Centers we speak with are trying to figure out ways to attract new members or clients. More often than not, there is a specific goal to attract young seniors - those 70 and under. We call this the Boomer Rate - the percentage of new members that are Boomers vs. Non-Boomers. After a drop-off from 2013 - 2015, the network-wide Boomer Rate has been holding steady at 38% for the past few years. That means that almost 4 in 10 new members across the Network are between the ages of 55 and 70 when they join.

About 400 of the Centers in the Network have a Boomer Rate over 50%. To figure out what those Centers are doing differently, we looked at the introductory or first activity of new young members at those Centers. This is an indication of what initially attracts people to the Center.

At Centers that have a high Boomer Rate, Fitness and Exercise is, by far, the most popular type of activity. Nearly 44% of all introductory activities are fitness classes. The congregate meal represents just 14% of introductory activities. In order of popularity, here are the fitness programs/classes at those Centers:

Learning to Fly

In addition to fitness and exercise programs, parties are a big draw for the young seniors. Here are a few examples of party names/themes from across the Network that had a large number of young seniors in attendance:


Volunteers are generous not only with their time, but with their money. As shown above, an amazing 8% of volunteers also donate money! Recruiting volunteers is a great way to increase your donor base.

Attracting younger members might require offering a new program or party, but more than likely it could just be a subtle change in emphasis or marketing.

Subtle changes can have a huge impact. Long live the butterfly.

Senior Centers: Building Momentum

September is National Senior Center Month and NISC has some great resources to help you with programming ideas and to celebrate! Check them out by clicking the image below: