It’s easy to keep young people (and by “young” I mean anyone younger than me) in a place where you think they need to be protected.
I’m primarily talking about Millennials. Millennials were born between 1981-1996, making them somewhere between 27-42 years old.
Here’s how I (and maybe we) have kept them young.
“Oh, we can’t expect them to give. They have little kids.”
“We can’t ask them for a donation. They have student loans.”
“How can we ask them to tithe? They’re just getting started in life.”
Well, folks…Millennials, the ones that we’ve been insisting can’t give, probably can or will be able to sooner than you think. We’ve been counting them out. Without their permission.
I recently listened to Carey Nieuwhof’s interview with Vance Roush. Part of the wide-ranging discussion touched on “Why Millennials Will be the Most Generous Generation.”
And the main reason? In a few short years they will be the benefactors of an enormous transfer of generational wealth. That’s right. When the Boomers go to their great reward, their children will inherit, according to one study cited in Newsweek, over $68 trillion (you read that right, trillion) by 2030.
If they aren’t doing it now, what will it take to inspire Millennials to give to you once they inherit this wealth?
It’s the secret sauce that congregations and nonprofits across the country can tap into: Values.
[Millennials’] dream is experiences, their dream is adventure, their dream is meals and meanings with close friends. And so, when the dream shifts from safety and security [Boomer values] to impact and meaning, that’s where generosity is more tied to my identity.
What I give to the organization, I align myself with my generosity. So, it’s even more than, “Oh, I’m a generous person.” It’s “What am I aligning my generosity to?”
Boomers and the Greatest Generation are more often motivated to give out of a sense of loyalty. They have a profound respect for and love of institutions like the church. For Millennials, that’s not enough. They want to give to an organization or congregation that they believe is changing the world and matches with their values.
The recent article, The Rise of Millennial Giving and What Nonprofits Need to Know suggests that “Evidence proves that millennials will continue to increase their giving when organizations understand how and why they, as individuals, align with the nonprofit’s mission.”
It’s critical that your congregation or nonprofit knows its “why.” Why do you exist? How are you impacting the world? What would happen if your church or organization ceased to exist? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?
Knowing your “why” is important for all generations but it is especially so for Millennials.
This does not negate the need to help the next generation understand the spiritual significance of generosity. Roush mentioned Proverbs 11:24:
The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. (The Message)
It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Giving is a spiritual discipline and Millennials, in particular, want to know that their giving aligns with their values and their “why.”
Can’t clearly and quickly articulate what your congregation or nonprofit stands for? Then take some time and figure it out.
A generation is waiting.
Here are some previous posts to help dig further into giving and the Millennial generation:
Millennials Want to Give: Let Them
What You Need to Know about Millennial Giving
Four Ways to Engage Millennials
Millennials, They Sure are Cool: Part 2
And here's one on your "why":
What Do You Stand For?