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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Receiving a sudden second solicitation can feel impersonal.

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Has this happened in your church? It shouldn’t.

We are the Church! We are all about love, and grace, and gratitude (among other things.)  Expressing gratitude lets donors know you care about them, not just their finances.

 

How you say thank you is as important as how you ask for support.

Your plan for acknowledging first-time donations should consider the following:

1) First-time givers should receive a thank you note within a week of making the donation.

2) Your thank you note should include information about how donations are making an impact through your church. Connect their donation with the church’s ability to achieve its God-given vision.

3) Do not make a second ask in the letter — the letter is 100% gratitude.

 

Here is a sample thank you letter to first-time donors to get you started.

This blog was adapted from the original published 11/2/2017.

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