In my last blog post, “Elephant in the Sanctuary: Talking Money in Church,” I introduced the topic of engagement and fundraising within a church. In today’s blog, we’ll dive into the first step, engaging each of the U.S. generations.
Before we can engage the generations, we need to know a bit more about each of them.
Generation Alpha: Born 2010–2024
Generation Alpha are the youngest in your children’s ministry and your nursery. Children in this group are learning about values that will last a lifetime. Ensure that their faith and giving back are part of the lessons learned.
Generation Z: Born 1996–2009
Generation Z are the older children in your children’s ministry and youth groups. Youth in this group are starting to develop their personalities, finding their way around life’s curves, and even learning to deal with bullies at school. As this generation search for who they are, your church can engage them and show them where faith fits into it all. Remember, this group may act like they don’t need adults, but this is when caring adults are most needed. My middle child is in this group, and I need to remember to be there even when he acts like he doesn’t want me there.
Millennials: Born 1981–1995
Millennials are individuals starting life as independent adults. They’re either in college or beginning a career, and maybe even starting a family. They’re feeling the pressures of life but still value faith giving very highly on their list of priorities. Many of them are discovering their flow of life and where faith fits into that life. Your church can be there to support and mentor this group with their ever-present smartphones and in those much-needed face-to-face interactions. This generation is considered one of the loneliest generations, and church can help fill that void.
Generation X: Born 1965–1980
Generation X has gotten a lot of press lately as the forgotten generation. These are the individuals and families who probably make up a big part of the folks who help to run the church, from volunteers to those on staff. Generation X families may have small children (they may have had them later in life), and others may be empty-nesters or newer grandparents. Surprisingly, folks in this generation don’t prioritize faith giving, but they do value families, and many are very strong in their faith. Try to bridge the gap this generation feels and prioritize their diverse needs as they juggle small children, teens, young adults, and mid-life issues.
Baby Boomers: Born 1946–1964
Boomers grew up in an era of significant social change, and have much to offer in wisdom and mentoring. They are also a huge source of financial support for social good organizations and churches. They may be less knowledgeable about technology, but they do use it. Many Boomers are looking at or starting retirement and figuring out what will be their legacy.
Matures: Born before 1946
This generation was raised in the wake of the Great Depression, and they understand the value of a dollar. Many want to leave a legacy that ensures the next generations will be able to better cope with the ups and downs of life. Many have had to rely on their faith as they have seen wars, changes to households, financial crises, and things come in and out of fashion. Most of them have made their money, spent a decent amount on retirement, and are looking at faith as a place to give because most of them have been rooted in and found strength in the church.
Before we close out, take a moment and think about it. Which generations do you want to engage in your church? Should you be trying to engage them all? Do you even want all of them to attend your services and be part of your church? Keep in mind, each generation brings valuable qualities to your church, such as mentoring skills, wisdom, and of course financial support.
The nonprofit world is full of fundraising lessons your church can learn. Yes, they aren’t exactly one-size-fits-all lessons, but you can learn a lot and emulate many of the ideas. And, similar to nonprofits, you have volunteers that you can engage. Take a look at some of the ways nonprofits engage volunteers and use personas to identify and segment the various groups they want to further engage.
See you next time as we look at encouraging tithing and offerings.