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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Horizons welcomes Mick Tune as a guest contributor. Mick is a partner with Doug Turner and Bill McMillan at Culture of Ready, a partner with Horizons in the generosity movement. Reach out to Mick at mtune@horizons.net.

 

 

 

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Stories about outrageous and extravagant generosity inspire me. Just a few weeks ago, an older woman told me how excited and privileged she felt about giving a generous gift to her church’s capital campaign. Vera went on to say, “The truth is Scott, I probably won’t live to see the results. I’m not going to be around much longer.” For Vera, the importance of her gift was not in its impact during her lifetime, but rather the impact it would have on the church in the future. The gift Vera gave would empower her church to act on The Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

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A recent poll by Barna Research asked churchgoers, “Have you heard of the Great Commission?” Here are the results:

 

It may be surprising to see that 51% answered, “No.”  It is hard to understand why the majority is unfamiliar with the core mission of the church. However, the research points to a potentially more significant and troubling question–Do churchgoers believe their church makes a lasting and eternal difference in peoples’ lives?  If we truly believe the church and its teachings make a difference, then we are inspired to share our faith and the Great Commission has meaning.

If we don’t believe the Church matters, then the

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Then I asked them, “Do you or do you not have the cure for a hurting and broken world? If you do, how can you keep it to yourselves?”

 

Outrageous and extravagant generosity occurs when we truly believe we have the antidote for the diseases that afflict our world. The Great Commission matters when people believe in the importance of sharing the good news of God’s love and grace with the world.

 

So what do we do?

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Would you like to experience outrageous extravagant giving in your church? Rather than talking about spreadsheets, budgets and bills, focus on how your church is responding to the Great Commission. How is your church reaching people to share the Good News? How do your ministries demonstrate your mission of sharing Christ with the world? Be willing to ask, “Do we really believe we have the answer to a world that is broken, hurting and afraid?” If the answer is yes, tell your story and get ready for outrageous, extravagant giving! If the answer is no, start looking for the for sale sign.

 

How to Conquer Your Fear of the Ask

Most people are downright terrified to ask other people for money. Asking for money seems intrusive, awkward, impolite and uncomfortable. Asking for money can be intimidating, but changing your approach can make it easier—and even fun!

 

Here are 5 tips for conquering your fear of the ask

  1. Make your donation first.

When asking a donor to support a cause, be sure you are already on the record as having given your support. After all, how can you ask someone to do something you have not already done yourself? Your enthusiasm and commitment should be demonstrated through your early gift to the cause. Your leadership will be an indication to others that the cause is important and worthy of funding. Before asking others, it is essential that your donation (or pledge) has already been made.

  1. Never apologize.

If the conversation begins with, “I’m sorry to be asking you this but…” then you shouldn’t be making the ask. Why would you insult a prospective donor by apologizing for asking? If the cause is not worthy of their donation, then you shouldn’t be requesting it. Before making an ask, consider why you have made a contribution (if you haven’t make a contribution, see #1). Why is this cause important and how will it benefit the church’s mission? Instead of apologizing, you should be conveying the transformational nature of the mission for which you are requesting funds. Begin by sharing your excitement about how this project will result in the advancement of God’s vision for your church.

  1. Don’t downplay expectations.

Asking people to give a little something will result in a little gift. Big visions require committed leadership and, often, significant resources. Donors want to know what it will take to make the project successful and what you want from them. If you sugar coat your ask in an attempt to be more polite, your donor will be confused, frustrated, and likely uninvolved. Be sure to prepare for your conversation in advance and let the donor know exactly what is planned, what is needed, and how you are asking them to respond.

  1. Engage people in prayer.

As Christ’s disciples, we believe generous giving is a crucial component of the discipleship path. As stewards of God’s gifts, we believe God is the giver of all blessings and it is up to us to determine how God would have us use them. Donors should be encouraged to pray about how to use the resources God has provided, and regardless of the size of the gift, listening for God’s leading is vital to the ask.

  1. Make it about the donor.

If you don’t read any of the other 5, please read this one carefully. Be sure you prepare well in advance and understand the donor’s wishes. What are the donor’s passions? What other causes does the donor support? How will this gift fulfill the donor’s philanthropic desires? Give careful consideration to whether the request is appropriate for the donor. Is the amount being requested within the scope of what the donor is able or willing to consider? Has the donor made similar gifts in the past to you or to another organization?

 

If you have the right attitude and are well prepared, the ask should be a time of celebration. The ask is an opportunity to connect eager donors with projects that meet their philanthropy goals. If you’ve done your job well, they will thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it.

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