Millennials And The Surprising Ways You Can Communicate With Them

I said something during a presentation that led more than one in the audience to shake their head. I was presenting some thoughts on millennials and the ways church communities think their millennials desire to receive communications.  I then suggested stewardship committees approach millennials through more traditional communication means, such as letters sent to their mailbox and personal visits.  The objection?  Millennials don’t read piles of mail. They prefer their phones and tablets.   

When you get that kind of reaction as a speaker, you have two options. In response to slight objection, you can slow the train of thought down or go full steam ahead.  I continued.  I shared thoughts gleaned from recent interactions with millennials and some thoughts shared by a pastor and a fundraiser.  These are the thoughts:

  • A fundraiser for a non-profit organization, who is a millennial, relayed that her nonprofit was sending regular mail to millennials. When asked why, she replied,  Because they like getting mail.  They get so much other stuff in their email boxes, it is refreshing for them to receive a thoughtful note sent the old fashioned way.
  • At the opening meeting for a brand new church stewardship committee, I asked all of the members why they agreed to serve on the committee. All six of the millennials gave the same answer: “Because I was asked.”  It is to be noted that all of these committee members were asked to serve not through email or Facebook, but in person.
  • A pastor informed me that in a recent new member class, a few millennials mentioned their interest in receiving mail as opposed to email.  They said it would likely just go unopened if emailed. One even expressed a recent interest in not only receiving communications through snail mail, but also in sending her own communications that way.  (She actually said she likes writing hand-written notes.)

From these interactions, I am learning not to overvalue electronic communications with millennials.  Do I use email? Yes.  But I also request face to face meetings, and I also send handwritten notes.  During annual stewardship campaigns or capital campaigns, I suggest for committees to look for ways to personally contact millennials and invite them to commit to these campaigns.  Millennials are reading emails on the train ride into work, on the lunch break, and in bed.  But they also look in the mailbox and listen to voicemails—and often respond.  They also give.

I think millennials are like the rest of us.  They are human.  They were created to enjoy the act of giving. They are inspired to give to organizations and communities wherein they are personally involved.  They give, not always, but to those organizations and communities that present a thoughtful and personal ask.

And I will continue to go full steam ahead with this thought.  Will you?

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