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Younger Christian donors take different approach to giving

Christian donors under age 40 are extremely different from their older counterparts, especially when compared with donors aged 70 and older.

A new study looking at the evangelical segment of self-identified protestants has some startling results.

young donors“Younger donors have a much more international focus,” said Mark Dreistadt, founder and president of Infinity Concepts. “They seek variety in their giving. They’re less trusting but do less planning or research. Unlike older donors, younger donors are a mix of perspectives rather than a strong common voice. Not only that, but they feel less strongly about their perspectives than do older donors.”

The findings are detailed in The Generation Gap: Evangelical Giving Preferences, a study by Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts. Fifty-eight percent of evangelical Protestants give money to charities or ministries outside their church. These donors were asked their preferences in eight different areas regarding giving. In every one of those eight areas, preferences vary substantially by age.

While the study focused on evangelicals, it is likely the same cross denominational lines and Catholic believers.

Overall, evangelicals favor the following:

  • Giving domestically more than overseas (46 percent to 27 percent, with the remaining 27 percent expressing no preference).
  • Trusting an organization until it proves unworthy of their trust over doubting an organization until it proves it is trustworthy (48 percent to 33 percent).
  • Supporting organizations they already know rather than learning about new organizations (58 percent to 28 percent).
  • Supporting a small number of causes over a wide variety (58 percent 31 percent).
  • Supporting a small number of organizations over a wide variety (62 percent to 27 percent).
  • Doing research on an organization over giving “when it feels right” (53 percent to 33 percent).
  • Doing advance planning regarding their giving over donating “spur of the moment” (47 percent to 34 percent).
  • In giving locally vs. beyond their local area, preferences are split (37 percent to 36 percent).

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The research also found Christian donors are:

  • More likely to prefer overseas giving to domestic (34% to 28%)
  • More open to giving beyond their local area (48% to 26%)
  • Less likely to start by trusting an organization (35% to 42%)
  • Almost as likely to want to learn about new organizations as they are to prefer supporting what’s already familiar to them (41% to 45%)
  • Much more likely to want to spread their money around to different causes rather than concentrate on a few (49% to 31%)
  • Far more likely to want to support a wide variety of organizations over a small number (46% to 35%)
  • Almost as likely to give “spur of the moment” as to plan their giving in advance (39% to 43%)

Infinity says that if younger donors maintain these habits as they get older it could lead to a dramatic change in how churches and other organizations raise funds to operate.

  • Lower levels of donor loyalty will require stronger retention strategies and more engaging sustainer (partnership) programs
  • More opportunities for growth as effective fundraisers capture the interest of donors who are more open to new organizations or causes
  • More need for variety and options within an organization to help hold their interest
  • More need for multiple touchpoints and refreshed messaging to keep donors engaged
  • An even greater focus on emotional strategies and messaging in prospecting
  • An increased need for organizations to demonstrate trustworthiness, rather than assuming donors will start by trusting them

“What leaders need to realize is that they can’t effectively reach the 35-year-old donor with the same strategy they used to reach their 65-year-old donors,” said Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice