Technology is changing the way people give to their church and the other charitable organizations they support. While members of one generation might be wary of making an online gift, another generation doesn't even carry a checkbook. In a great post last year on CivilSociety Fundraising, Kirsty Weakley introduced a startling statistic:
More than 50 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed said that the introduction of services like text and online donations has encouraged them to donate spontaneously.
If that doesn’t convince you that online giving is crucial to the financial health of the church, I don’t know what will. We must think outside of the tithe. We all know that few people actually tithe. This has been the case for many years. So, in addition to continuing to teach people about the blessing of tithing, recognize that many people will often give spontaneously to causes that inspire them. Failure to leverage this means that money which could support your ministry will end up being given to someone else. You may have noticed the other startling statistic in the story:
One third of younger donors also said that they would give their money to another charity if they were unable to donate online or by text.
With that in mind, consider implementing the following process as a way to increase donations you receive from Millennials.
- Identify the impact
First, be sure you evaluate your missions projects for a focus on impact. Many times, we tend to focus on the activities around a project as opposed to the tangible life change that happens as a result of the activities. Make sure you know what the measurable outcomes are and how you affected them. This will help you accomplish the next step well.
The better and more specific picture you paint for Millennials, the more they are moved to action. Don’t tell them to give to missions. Get specific. Tell them about the impact and life change that is happening. For instance, instead of sharing that your church provided lunch for 50 children in the local elementary school, tell people about how those children's performance (grades, attendance) has improved as a result. This will require a closer, more purposeful relationship with the school administrators to obtain such data, but that's what you were hoping for anyway ... right?
- Facilitate connectedness
Millennials are more likely to donate to organizations in which they feel connected. While much of that connection is established in person for churches, it is also forged through social media and online interaction. Make sure your communications manager is initiating and taking part in an online conversation and not sharing information as if the web were just a megaphone.
- Get the RIGHT app for that
Update your technology to support the steps above. Your church management system should be the tool of choice. If not, you will create data silos that lead to information gaps and diminished success. Millennials are 30 percent more likely to donate spontaneously through text message or online if given the option. Therefore, you need to make your online donations page accessible from desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Text-based giving is another rapidly growing approach to consider.
Following this process will not only increase your success with Millennials, it will make it easier and more attractive for everyone to give. You can never predict when someone is prompted to be generous, but you can create friction points that get in the way of that prompting. The first three steps I shared will help increase the prompting. The last one will ensure the prompting leads to the desired result!
Do you know what prompts your congregants to give? What options have you provided them once they are inspired? Are they easy?