The reasons all generations will give to your church or non-profit

Millennials (those born roughly between 1980 and 1995) like to give directly to a cause.  Every piece I have read on philanthropy and generational giving trends offers this as fact.   What do you think?  Have you heard this regarding millennials?  And, how many millennials have said this to you?

I am a GenXer.  I may be an oddity when it comes to generational giving habits, as I like to give directly to a cause as millennials do.  I give to causes with which I have a connection, those close to my heart and life experiences.  Why wouldn’t I?  Why wouldn’t any of us?  I think most of us do.  Many in all of the generations give to causes that match their values and hopes for the world.  This is not specific to the millennials, but specific to our relational humanity.

I do spend much time pondering generational theory.  In the end, when devising stewardship development strategies, the basics are what I lean to.  People are people, no matter what year they were born.  People respond with their giving when they are emotionally, relationally, and spiritually connected with an organization/group/community.  As various new ways to give becomes available to us (such as mobile giving), we are still humans and are still motivated to give for the same reasons.  For your next financial stewardship development initiative, consider working with the following guidelines when appealing to all generations:

  1. People give in response to being connected.  How well are the people you are “asking” for funds connected to the organizational mission?  Do they participate in any way with their time to develop the mission?  If a connection is present, their financial giving may connect with the cause as well.
  2. People give to causes that support their values.  What do you know of the particular donors you are inviting to give?  Do they even agree with the direction of your mission?  If their ideals are not aligned to the current objectives of your cause, their giving will probably not be aligned with it either.
  3. People give as an act of faith and trust.  Is your organization a good steward of the giving it receives?  How do givers know this?  In today’s society, if you do not share how you are managing and distributing the resources you are entrusted with, you are neglecting a very important communications strategy.  All of us, no matter our age, are responding to stories–the stories of how non-profits are using our resources to care for humanity and our world.  We give from a place of informed trust.

From your experience, what are the most frequent reasons people give their financial resources to your church/non-profit?  What is your current communications strategy to convey your mission and recent stewardship of funds?  Are you telling this story?  All generations, yours and mine, would prefer you spend time telling the true story of your organization.  Tell your story–tell it well–and tell it again.  All generations will respond.

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