“In 2016, 78% of contributions were given by donors 50 years or older. ”

We learned this staggering statistic when speaking with a Texas church whose attendance each Sunday is about 1,200. Seventy-eight percent! In speaking with other ministries across the state, we have found the majority of ministries realize their donor population is aging. Most ministries tell us the average age of their donor is about 60 and they connect well with Baby Boomers and somewhat well with Gen X’ers.

Ministries are becoming aware that connecting with Millennials (people born in 1982 or later) is different from engaging with previous generations. However, they aren’t sure what is needed to engage with the younger population. We’ve taken on the task to interview various ministries and want to share the first of 5 tips to successfully engage with younger donors. 

Tip #1: Create a hands-on experience.

Contrary to popular belief, Millennials have incredibly generous hearts. They are touched by events and moments. Go Fund Me campaigns are wildly popular on social media, and there is no shortage of good causes who need financing. “Millennials give to causes that tug at their heartstrings. They want to give to something where they can know an experience”, said Mark Yoakum, of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

For a Millennial to really engage with a ministry, there seems to be a need to first connect through a hands-on experience. In an age of virtual connections and social media, they want a physical, “real” experience to tie them to a ministry.

OurCalling, a ministry to the homeless in downtown Dallas, recruits volunteers to help feed, clothe, and create conversations with the homeless. This experience helps captivate the hearts of the Millennials and their digital bank accounts. “When millennials volunteer with us and have personal experiences with our homeless friends, they are more likely to consider giving to our ministry,” said Cali McCormac, Volunteer and Events Coordinator (a Millennial herself.)

Hope for the Hungry is a ministry that engages Americans on missions trips. “When we take a younger person on a trip to a third-world country, we can capture their attention and gain a champion for the cause of Christ. This isn’t just a financial issue for us. We want to give them an experience to capture their heart,” Founder Dan Kirkley told us.

Tip #1 Take Away: Millennials want to give their time and their physical presence before financially committing to a ministry. Therefore, ministries wanting to engage younger donors must create hands-on experiences where people can connect and feel their gift of time made a difference. Think this just wouldn’t fit for your ministry? Get creative and think outside the box to find ways to physically engage. 

Want to receive the entire 5 part mini-series on how to connect and engage with Millennials? Visit knutsoncpa.com/millennials

Written by Wendy Knutson, CPA

Wendy Knutson, CPA is the owner of Knutson CPA in Southlake, TX where a team of professionals serves a variety of businesses and ministries. As Certified Profit First Professional, the firm has a vision of enriching the lives of business owners by helping them find the missing piece: PROFITS. We take a similar approach called VISION FIRST with nonprofits, helping them develop healthy habits to accomplish their vision.