Millenial? Gen Z? What's your guess?
Let’s cut straight to the chase: I’m a Boomer. There’s not much I can do about it since I was born between 1946 through 1964 (sigh). That’s life. Boomers are, however, OK in my book.
While I’m at it, there are other generations too:
- Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980
- Millenials, born between 1981and 1996
- Gen Z, born between 1997 through 2012
- And of course, there are still many in the Silent Generation, born between 1928 through 1945.
The most recent Giving USA Special Report: Giving by Generation, does not take into account giving by the Silent Generation. It focuses instead on giving by Gen Z, Millenials, Gen X, and Boomers.
Here are a few highlights from that report of interest to faith communities:
1. Millenials are stepping up their giving game.
This generation had the biggest increase in giving since 2016 of any generation surveyed. Millenials gave 40 percent more, on average to charity than they did in 2016 – from $942 to $1,323. By contrast, Gen X and Boomer giving decreased by 4 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
Here’s the thing: Rick Dunham whose company helped conduct the survey said this about the surprising increase in giving by Millenials:
“…Giving is a life cycle issue.”
In other words, Millenials are getting older, are making more money as they grow in their careers, and have more disposable income.
If you’ve been around the church for a while, you might think that “young people” (anyone younger than you by ten years) can’t afford to or won’t give. This research says otherwise.
2. You Need a QR Code.
Donors – especially younger ones – love QR codes. You know what a QR code is, right? That squiggly square where you point your smartphone’s camera and it magically takes you to your church’s giving page?
If you don’t have one in your weekly bulletin, it’s easy to get and a must-have. Best of all, you can make QR codes for FREE. 47 percent and 46 percent of Gen Z and Millenials have made their way to a website using a QR code.
It's crucial that your church keeps up with current technology trends.
3. Your giving page needs to be user-friendly on a smartphone or tablet.
The editor of Non-Profit Pro, Amanda Cole, noted:
- 81% of Millenials gave online.
- 76% of Gen Z gave online.
- 69% of Gen X gave online.
- 61% of Boomers gave online.
The vast majority of these gifts came through a smartphone or on a tablet. How does your donation page look on a phone?
As Rick Dunham said, “Always design for mobile first.”
4. Hallelujah! The church is not dead!
Perhaps, most encouragingly, The Chronical of Philanthropy noted that USA Giving’s report, “…Showed an uptick in Millenials attendance of virtual or in-person religious services.” A little less encouraging: it showed a slight decline in Gen X and Boomer attendance from 2016.
Here’s the interesting thing: “In 2016, 49 percent of Millenials said they attended services ‘at least a few times a month.’ By 2022, that share of Millenials had grown to 67 percent.”
Harkening back to Dunham’s, “Giving is a life cycle issue,” Millennials have growing families and want them to be a part of a faith community. Not to be forgotten, there is a “strong connection between frequency of attendance of religious services and giving.”
Knowing that there is a desire to connect spiritually and be in community, how has your congregation made families of school-aged children a priority?
And finally, though lower than in 2016, each age group reported their highest contributions went to places of worship.
It’s a lot to take in.
This special report on generations should give you some good food for thought. Maybe there are one or two things you can do in the next month to step up your game.
- Reach out to Millenials in your congregation and find out what needs they have.
- Get a QR code in the bulletin or on your website.
- Take a look at your giving page on a smartphone.
But let’s get this straight as well: giving is not just part of the “life cycle.” It’s who we are as people of faith no matter what our age or stage in life. We want to open wide the door for all people. We are called to give at all stages of our lives. Now, let’s act like we believe it.
Photo Credit: Kartsen Bergmann, Pixabay