"It's critical that congregations provide all their people with opportunities to give that are meaningful to each individual generation. Millennials are just starting to get in the habit of giving to organizations that they feel passionately about. Let them give in the way that they want. It may take you out of your comfort zone but the payoff will be validating to a whole new generation of givers."
You don't have to be hip to understand Millennials (though you might want to give it a whirl). You do need to understand how they like to give and what keeps them engaged in giving.
Kayla Matthews recently posted "10 Nonprofit Marketing Strategies to Efficiently Engage Millennials." I've paired it down to four strategies for your review:
1. Let Millennials donate via text. Millennials carry very little cash but their phone is always at the ready. How often to do see a young person talking on their smart phone? Almost NEVER unless mom or grandma are on the other end. Trust me. Phones are not for talking into.
If you don't offer text-to-give as an option, your church is missing out on contributions from a key demographic. You're also missing out on helping Millennials develop the habit of giving.
2. Focus on Building Relationships. As Matthews says, Millennials won't be sources of significant donations – at least not right away. That's why it's important to put your energy into building relationships and making your cause matter to Millennials. Then, when they're more financially stable, they'll be eager to donate.
This is where the church has it over other kinds of organizations. You already have built in community. But you have to be open to reaching out (and not smothering) Millennials who are brave enough to visit and decide to be a part of your congregation. Chances are they will love interacting with surrogate grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles.
3. Show Transparency. Millennials are no different than other generations: they want to know where their money is going and what good it's doing in the world. Share stories. Matthews also suggests you put a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your website to answer these very questions.
4. Show That You're Aware of Current Issues. Millennials, like most of us, are not interested in faithfully attending a museum on Sunday mornings. They want to know that the congregation they connect with is also connected with the larger world. Be proud of the way you are impacting your community and world. Let your Millennials know how they can get involved.
Like every generation, Millennials are unique. They feel passionately about who they give to and that includes feeling connected…connected to community. And BTW, maybe you'll be inspired to keep things fresh and follow the lead of the heart-warming "Death Metal Grandma." She's the real front-runner for the "Song of the Summer" artist.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing, Oregon-Idaho AC
United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.