The generation known for its nomadic, trend-following tendencies is (somewhat) settling down and becoming (slightly) more predictable. Millennials are aging and will make up the largest demographic of the American workforce by 2020.1 According to Forbes, there are 53 million freelancers in the United States.
By 2020, one out of every two workers will be a freelancer.2 That means a “steady paycheck” isn’t necessarily all that steady, even for those who work 40 or more hours a week.
Just like millennials are reshaping the workplace, they’re also changing the traditional approach to generosity.
How millennials give
Millennials’ view of generosity is based on volunteerism and spontaneous giving more than planned giving to a specific organization––including churches.
Millennials are often cause-focused in their spending. For example, when making everyday purchases like shoes or glasses, millennials will choose a business that has a social justice element such as Warby Parker. With each purchase, Warby Parker provides a pair of glasses to someone who needs them. Millennials choose this type of purchase in an effort to feel they’re giving even when they’re spending.
Additionally, because of social media, millennials give in ways that didn’t exist in previous generations. While browsing Facebook or Instagram they’ll see a need, click a button to donate, and transact—all within 30 seconds. They can instantly donate money to a disaster, cause, or GoFundMe page. Spontaneous giving is the norm for them. And if they could only give by check or cash, those barriers would drastically limit giving.
Myth: Millennials are stingy
While it may seem that the “generation of entitlement” will be stingy when it comes to generosity, they’re giving at a higher rate than previous generations. The Millennial Impact Report surveyed more than 2,500 millennial employees and managers in small and large firms found that 84 percent made a charitable donation in 2014. Of those givers, only 22 percent said their donation was solicited through their company. A full 78 percent made donations on their own.3 Barna found that one in three millennials consider volunteering and offering emotional support as the two greatest acts of generosity.4
How can you apply this to your church?
First, download the free guide about trends in mobile giving. It will help you understand how your church needs to adapt.
Second, meet millennials where they’re at. They bank on their phone. They give from their phone. Make sure your church makes it easy to give from mobile.
Third, expand your church’s expressions of generosity. What’s a way your church can give back to your community? What immediate needs does your community have that your church can help meet?
Millennials stand ready to be one of the most giving generations in history. They want to support causes that matter, and your church can mobilize them to see how the gospel is the worthiest cause of all and how it drives all kinds of generosity. Taking time to help them understand generosity in a way they can understand is well worth the effort and will dramatically impact the church.
- “How Millennials Are Changing Philanthropy,” Forbes
- “The Rise of the Freelancer Economy,” Forbes
- “Millennials Are Actually More Generous Than Anybody Realizes,” Washington Post
- The Generosity Gap, The Barna Group, Ventura, California. www.barna.com