This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Giving trends of Millennials (and others) to congregations

Beryl Jantzi is the Everence Stewardship Education Director and a former pastor of several Mennonite congregations

Beryl Jantzi is director of Stewardship Education at Everence. This article originally appeared at and on the Menno Snapshots blog of Mennonite Church USA

As the number of not-for-profits increases, along with their level of sophistication for donor dollars, churches need to adjust to the changing landscape of religious giving.

When it comes to giving, loyalty to the local congregation cannot be assumed any longer, especially for Millennials.

  • Millennials (born 1981-1997) are now the largest generation in the workforce, but they give less money to fewer organizations than members of the generations born before 1946.
  • Millennials give differently than previous generations. Millennials and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) are more likely to be motivated by passion for a cause, while Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) give because they know organizations depend on them for financial viability.
  • Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (born before 1945) favor giving to places of worship, while places of worship do not make the top three for either of the younger generations.

Millennials and Gen Xers prefer to give online, while the preferred method of donation for Baby Boomers and older is still the check.

All generations appreciate receiving short emails or letters over other forms of communication, but they differ regarding frequency of communication.

Millennials prefer to hear from the organizations they support twice a month or more. Gen Xers prefer monthly communication, Boomers like to receive communication quarterly or more, and the Mature generation (born 1945 and before) prefers quarterly or less.

This research study by Abila also found that the more concise the content, the better. The top six donor communication forms were identified as:

  • Short emails with no links (75 percent)
  • Short letter or online article of 2-3 paragraphs (73 percent)
  • An email with links to other articles (65 percent)
  • A two-minute or less YouTube video (60 percent)
  • An annual report delivered via mail (56 percent)
  • Facebook posts (53 percent)

It should be no surprise that personalized thank-you emails and thank-you notes produced the highest positive or neutral reactions (respondents would love to receive it or they wouldn’t mind). Seventy-one percent of respondents reported feeling more engaged as a result of receiving personalized notes, while only 15 percent felt less engaged.

It’s important for congregations to stay informed and up to date on how younger generations think and act when it comes to giving. What worked in attracting donor dollars 20 or even 10 years ago may not be effective moving forward.

(The data and statistics used in this article are courtesy of research by Abila, and based on an article from Sarai Rice and the Alban Institute.)

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