Alan Wildes

Alan Wildes

5 tips to communicating generosity with the 4 generations

There are 4 major generations who are productive in our society.

  • Matures
  • Boomers
  • Gen Xers
  • Millenials

Most churches in America have at least two of these generations making up most of their congregation and the majority have all four.

As a generosity coach I am challenged with helping churches effectively communicate with each generation as it pertains to giving.  When I started in this work in 2000 it was a heck of a lot easier to communicate with each generation.  Technology has radically changed the way we think, communicate and relate to each other.  (Mild understatement huh?)

I have done some research (both formal and anecdotal) and have come up with some observations/conclusions about effectively communicating with each generation.  Here are the 5:

  1. The church’s communication game plan must be multi-faceted.  I know this may seem like a “duh” statement but how diverse is your communication plan?  Are you still doing things you were doing 10 years ago?  5 years ago?  Can you name 10 distinctly different methods of communicating with your congregation?  If not, then you need to convene the communication team and get to work (and take back your “duh” statement.)
  2. The effectiveness of direct mail rapidly declines as people get younger.  Research shows that all generations are motivated by direct mail.  As you might expect the Matures prefer this more than the Millenials.  However, it is proving to be true that even the Millenials like a nice brochure to hold and read.  The caveat is that the message of the brochure has to be big, relevant and worthwhile.
  3. Electronic communications (all types) are accepted by Millenials but rarely by Matures.  We are still not to the point of being able to communicate with our people exclusively through electronic media.  In most churches electronic communication is still a secondary form of communication.  Obviously, you need to know your congregation to know how much electronic media you can effectively use.
  4. All generations respond equally well to in person communications.  The Sunday morning experience continues to be THE best forum to effectively communicate with our people.  Even though Millenials may have their heads buried in their ipads during worship, they are listening.
  5. Person to person phone communication is accepted by all generations as long as they know and trust the church.  We have all but done away with phone communication.  It is still an awesome way to communicate with our people.  It is personal and the recipient can hear our voice and its inflections.  When is the last time you had a volunteer call team to communicate a big event at your church.  Hmmm.

If you want all of your people to hear and know the message/vision of your church you must effectively communicate.  If they know and the message/vision (and it is clear, compelling and concise) they will give.

What creative ways you are communicating with the generations in your church?

Please teach me.

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