How to Improve Your Millennial Giving Right Now

by | January 30, 2018

Millennial donors are considered the Holy Grail for most churches. Pastors are often heard saying, “If only we could get those young families to begin pledging…” thinking it will solve the church’s problems. However, most churches fail to engage Millennial giving. They fail because Millennials view giving and philanthropy much differently than previous generations. To be successful, churches need to adapt.

Traditional methods don’t work with this generation. Here’s what to do.

The Millennial generation (born 1981-1997) is now over 30% of the population. They have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. Yet in 2016, Millennials represented just over 7% of the donor population and contributed 5.4% of total giving (Charitable Giving Report by Blackbaud). As the influence of this generation grows, we need to better understand how to gain their support.

Most Millennials participated in community service as a high school graduation requirement. Volunteerism is something they’ve grown up with. However, encouraging giving through customary church methods won’t work. Church traditions of pledging, passing the offering plate, and multi-year volunteer commitments don’t fit Millennial giving preferences.  To gain their support, first you have to understand their giving preferences.

 

Millennial Giving Preferences

According to research from the 2017 Millennial Impact Report here’s what we know about Millennials.

  • Non-traditional donors. Millennials donate using online giving (such as #GivingTuesday) and social giving (such as crowdfunding). Having grown up with cell phones, iPads, and the internet, technology is part of every facet of their lives–including giving.
  • Express support and influence others through social media. Social media is the Millennials’ primary source of information and the most important tool to connect them with causes they care about. When supporting a cause, Millennials encourage others to follow their lead via social media.
  • Confident in themselves and organizations (nonprofit and government) to create positive change. However, they want to know how their support has made a positive impact on someone else’s life. They want to witness the positive change they helped to create.
  • Believers in the power of voting. They believe voting will result in changes they want to see happen.
  • Passionate about making the world a better place for everyone. Millennials are motivated by stories of how the world is becoming better because of their volunteerism and financial contributions.
  • Responsive to appeals that benefit others. Previously thought to be a self-absorbed generation, Millennials respond more positively to appeals that help others than to those that show personal benefit.
  • Eager to be heard. Millennials advocate for causes that address issues important to them. Mostly through social media, Millennials share their support for charities they believe are making a positive impact.

How to Involve Millennials in Giving at Your Church

How are you involving Millennial giving to your church? Here are some ideas…

  • Provide online giving through your website. This is no longer optional. Better yet, provide a giving kiosk, QR code in the bulletin, and text-to-give too. Make giving easy—especially for those who have never written a check. If you are not providing e-giving options, you will not win over the Millennials.
  • Tell stories of how your ministries are impacting hearts and lives. Use your church Facebook page and other communications tools. Show your Millennial members how their gifts are making a difference. Tell the stories of how your ministry is changing the world.
  • Invite Millennials to volunteer—don’t ask for a three-year stint, but for a single event. If they feel they are making a difference, Millennials are likely to share their experiences on social media, volunteer again, and even bring a friend.
  • Listen to your Millennials. Let their voices be heard. Most Millennials will share their opinions and passions, but are unlikely to engage in debate. So listen well and heed their advice.

In case you’re still looking for tips, here are some insights from Brady Josephson.

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Millennials are changing the face of philanthropy and can help your church achieve its missional objectives.

 

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Rich Church, Poor Church – Keys to Effective Financial Ministry Seminar

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Registration Due by Oct. 2

 

If you have ever struggled with how to grow generosity in your church, you won’t want to miss one of these two upcoming one-day stewardship seminars.

You and your team will receive valuable insights and knowledge of best practices from Clif Christopher, founder and president of Horizons Stewardship. Clif is the author of several stewardship books and is a sought-after speaker on this important topic. This seminar has received the endorsement of Bishop Trimble and is co-sponsored by the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana.

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Ways to Increase Donor Motivation

172

 

That is how many times I have donated blood. My first donation was through a blood drive when I was in college. It was a relatively painless experience and home-made cookies were offered as motivation! I started donating after that, but for years I did so sporadically.  At some point, I learned my blood type was O negative, a classification fitting only 7% of the population. As a universal blood donor, anyone in a medical emergency could receive my blood. After a brief uptick in my donations, life interfered and my motivation to donate waned.

When I was making my 50th or so donation, I learned something else. In addition to being O negative, I am also CMV negative.  Blood with these two qualities is the only type that can be given to newborn babies. As a donor, I am referred to as a “baby quad” because one pint of my blood can be divided and given to four different babies! After I knew this, I began to make the effort to donate every six weeks. I did this for a time until life got busy again.

Eventually, donating felt more like a duty than a joy and my motivation dwindled.

 

Months would pass without a donation. Finally, after several reminder phone calls from the blood center, I scheduled a time to donate. On the morning before my donation, I spoke with someone on the phone and happened to mention I was giving blood later that day. When I revealed, I am a “baby quad,” the voice on the other end got quiet. After a brief pause, through tears, she said, “Thank you.”   She explained that a few months earlier she had given birth and her baby daughter had required over a dozen blood transfusions. And then she said, “My daughter is alive today because people like you are willing to donate their blood.”

 

That moment reminded me of the reason I donate: giving blood truly is the “gift of life.”

 

Regardless of the type of donation, the primary motivation for giving is belief in the mission the gift supports. Knowing that my blood donation could help save the lives of newborn babies inspired me to donate again! It is up to church leaders to help donors connect the dots between their gift to the church and the church’s ability to do life-changing ministry. Showing your donors how their gifts are making a difference in the world will motivate them to give again.

Here are some ways to increase donor motivation.

  • Keep your mission front and center as a reminder of the importance of giving. The mission of your church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Do not assume everyone understands this single purpose. A recent study by Barna found that 51% of churchgoers state they have never heard of the Great Commission.
  • Have a clear and compelling vision that lifts up the unique ways your church is living out its mission in your context.  Without a clear vision, the church can become inwardly focused and self-serving. A clear vision has the power to shape and connect everything that the church does, both uniting and energizing the congregation in its life and purpose.
  • Create a Vision Statement that is simple and easy to memorize. State it regularly in sermons, in the liturgy, on communication platforms, and on the website.  In 10 Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, author Bishop Bob Farr says “I have never seen a church grow by hanging a mission and vision statement on the wall. On the other hand, I have never seen a growing congregation that didn’t deeply understand their mission and vision.”
  • Share stories of lives impacted and changed through your ministries. It is interesting to learn that 15 or 30 or 100 students went on a mission trip. But it is inspiring to hear one story of how a student’s faith was impacted by that experience. It is rousing to hear a story from someone whose life was changed forever by those students. Facts and data inform the mind but stories touch the heart. Donor motivation requires both.

Help donors stay motivated by connecting their generosity with your mission.

  • Preach on the theology of money and giving. While people will not contribute to the church because it needs money to pay its bills, they will be moved by a biblical message that shapes values and offers guidance on how they can faithfully use their resources.
  • Express gratitude. While receiving thanks may not be the only reason why people give, donors do want to feel their gifts are appreciated. A personal thank-you note is an opportunity to let your supporters know you value them and what they do. Gratitude is key to donor motivation.

 

It was just a simple, heartfelt “Thank you,” but it reminded me of the importance of my donation and reconnected me to the joy of giving. Maybe those who support your church need a reminder as well.

 

Donation #173 is already on my calendar.

 

 

 

To access Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click here to sign up for Giving365.

 

Horizons Announces the Addition of Dr. Rhodes Logan to the Team

Horizons is delighted to announce that Dr. Rhodes Logan, former Chief Development Officer for the United Methodist Church Development Center, has joined the Horizons team.

 

As the CDO, Rhodes oversaw the development activities of eight ministries of the United Methodist Church including annual, capital, and planned giving. Rhodes is an experienced development professional having also raised funds as a Campaign Director for the University of Tennessee and as the Director of Development for the United Way (Knoxville and Oak Ridge) and Carson-Newman University.

 

Through his ministry, Rhodes discovered his passion for working with local churches and religious non-profits. As a Vice President and Ministry Strategist with Horizons, he will continue to capably guide his clients to achieve funding for their missional objectives. Dr. Logan’s expertise spans all areas of development including capital campaigns, major gift solicitations, planned giving, annual giving programs, and development communications. The transformation of individuals and, in turn, the body of Christ, drives and inspires Rhodes’ development ministry.

 

Horizons’ founder, Clif Christopher says, “In my twenty-five years guiding Horizons, I do not think I have ever seen someone with the diverse skill set that Rhodes brings to the team. Not only is he highly committed to the mission of the Church, but he also brings a high-level of skill in all phases of capital acquisition. He joins Horizons as a proven professional.”

 

Horizons’ Managing Partner, Joe Park stated, “Rhodes began his development career in secular higher education but has followed his heart into serving the church at the General Board and conference levels and with faith-based non-profits like Africa University.  Now through Horizons, he brings his formidable skills to serve the local church as well.  We are thrilled to welcome Rhodes Logan to the Horizons Stewardship team!”

 

Dr. Logan can be reached at rlogan@horizons.net.

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