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How to Engage Millennials with 5 Tips from Millennials

By Charlotte Woodward

Let’s talk about the M word – Millennials.

Hello everyone! My name is Charlotte Woodward and not only do I manage marketing here at Vision2, but I am also a 27 year old Millennial. (gasp!)

Don’t be fooled – Millennials really aren’t that scary. We’re just tech-savy, goal oriented, career motivated kids who love a good farmer’s market. But that’s not all there is. As it turns out, Millennials are a caring bunch that support charities more than any other generation. And I am here to tell you our Top 5 Tips to help get their attention. So get your PSL ready because we’re diving in! (PSL = pumpkin spice latte. We are only 2 days away from fall, after all).

First, let’s start with some stats (Millennials loooove stats):

  • Millennials are in the age range of 22-37, as of 2018.*
  • They are our largest generation to date! Pretty crazy when you think about it…*
  • By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce – yep you read that right.*
  • They are definitely on their phones. They send on average 20 texts per day.*
  • This is a generation that cares about charity, seeing as 81% reported donating their money, goods, or services on a regular basis.*
  • Finally, and this is great news! Out of all the causes that Millennials support, places of worship are their second most supported cause.*

Now, onto our Top 5 Tips.

Tip #1: When it comes to giving, start by asking for something other than money.

So what do you ask them for? Start by asking them for their time to volunteer, or a canned good for a food drive – or even for them to post on social media about a great experience they had at your church!

“Millennials don’t have a lot of money to give, but more of them give more goods and time than any other generation.”

-‘Why Millennials Are More Charitable than the Rest of You’ from thestreet.com

So take them up on it! Start by asking for their time or a specific item.

Next, you want to get them used to giving something other than money on a monthly basis. This gets them used to a monthly giving pattern, and once they have the extra money, they will already be in the rhythm to give on a recurring basis. According to an article on classy.com, Millennials are actually a generation already primed for monthly giving. In fact, 52% of them reported being interested in monthly giving. Turns out, they like the routine-ness and don’t often have the means to make a one-time larger gift, so they can more easily get behind a recurring gift that may be smaller in size. So, get them used to a monthly giving pattern so that once they do have the financial means to make a gift, they know exactly what to do.

Tip #2: Appreciate Millennials like your Elders… because one day they will be!

Current older givers will be replaced one day by Millennials. So you need to engage with them now because they will be the next in line to lead your church in the coming years. Every giver starts somewhere, and believe it or not your elders were 27 at one point too! Allow your Millennial givers to begin their giving journey with whatever they can give, and nurture them along until they can afford to tithe. Remember, any amount is significant. Millennials may not have a lot of money to give – which is why any time DO give, you should make your appreciation known.

Celebrate gifts of all sizes. Do something more than just send an generic acknowledgment (which you should do for every.single.gift). You can use targeted acknowledgments to put emphasis on the source they gave from (your giving solution should be able to tell you where each person’s gift came from – if it doesn’t, click here!). You can create a specific personalized acknowledgment for anyone who gives from their mobile phone. In that acknowledgment, encourage them to take a second action that they can access via mobile, like signing up for an upcoming event online, or following your Church on social media! Or you can focus on the amount given. Any amount matters and making sure your appreciation is heard matters even more.

Tip #3: Mobile interaction is essential.

Ok, interacting with your church online should be a no-brainer. After all, it is 2018 – EVERYONE is on their phones. But it’s more than just being online and being mobile responsive. Think about what this audience is DOING in all that time on their phones. You have to make sure you are reaching them when & where they want to engage. So if it’s not inside the 4 walls of your church, go where they are… Which is on their phone.

If Millennials aren’t engaged with you already online, social media is the place to start. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – any social accounts your church has should be utilized with targeted messages. We actually found that 61% of Twitter users are Millennials. And one of the main reasons they have embraced this platform is to learn about current trends. You can use Twitter as a virtual bulletin board for your church to talk about all your upcoming events and get people excited!

Instagram stories can be fun too. You can show people the behind the scenes of what it takes to get ready for Sunday morning, or the ins and outs of a typical week day at your church! They can highlight the fun things you are doing, and also send meaningful messages to your audience. You could even think about hiring an intern who is Millennial age to do some of the posting so they are automatically targeting the Millennial audience.

So use Twitter and Instagram to highlight your church news, THEN you can redirect people back to your church’s mobile app where they can hear the latest sermon, or see what groups are available to join. This is super smart because you are connecting with Millennials where they are (on social), but you are also giving them a direct action to take in your church app. Once they get into the app, the possibilities for them to get involved further are endless.

And finally, use social media to post thoughts for the day, or provide opportunities to pray for specific people, places, or situations. You can still keep it private to individuals but send out a bat signal for a big prayer request, or let people know the progress of your latest Missions Trip! After all, it’s not the post, it’s the conversation that comes from it! So go start some conversations.

Tip #4: Shout impact from the mountain tops!

Millennials want to make a difference. That’s why we’re seeing more and more of them quit their corporate jobs to start their own small businesses, or why they flock to the Farmers Markets instead of commercial all-in-one superstores. Whether Millennials are giving their time, their goods, or their money, they do it because they want to make a difference. So, celebrate the difference they are making!

Again, acknowledgment means appreciation. You can be as creative as you want here! Include the impact made in your acknowledgments. This can be anything from the total dollars donated, how close you are to your goal, how much time was volunteered, how many families are being saved, and/or what difference was made by their time/effort/dollars.

Feel free to get even more personal and use social media to tag specific people who stood out with their passion and let your entire social audience know that THESE people made a difference! Post about it in your app, website, and print it in your bulletin. Call it out in Sunday’s service. Let everyone who helped know the impact they have made. Share the overall results and who made it possible. If you can assign a specific number of lives saved, wells built, families fed, healthcare administered, do it and shout about it!

Tip #5: Think outside the box.

We all know your reputation is worth a thousand visits to your church…. Right? Ok, I’m just kidding, but here’s what I mean:

Someone could attend your church 14 Sundays in a row. They would likely leave feeling inspired by the message delivered, with every intention to come back the next week. But then, the NFL season happens, and their team is playing at 10 am. They figure that they attended the last 14 Sundays, so maybe missing this one won’t be so bad.

Give them a reason NOT to miss. Well-known blogger, Kevin Stone, has a great blog called Executive Pastor Online, and he actually wrote an article on this very topic, titled ‘The Wow Factor’. In this post, he talks about all the excitement that stems from implementing the Wow Factor. How one moment can really become a memory if the person is wow’d. If you apply this to your idea of a growth strategy for your church, what it really comes down to is… you have to try cool stuff!

“The ‘wow factor’ doesn’t just apply to big events. It also applies to our services. We’re always trying to do something incredible that will create the ‘moment’ in the service that inspires people to ‘feel’ something.”       -Kevin Stone, The Wow Factor 

Now you may be thinking “that sounds great, but wow-ing people is expensive”. No worries, because we have brainstormed some low-cost options that you all can try!

  • Bring in outside speakers that get people excited. Promote them coming on-site, mention the service won’t be filmed so people won’t want to miss in person!
    • Offer a Q&A, or meet & greet with the speaker in person afterwards.
  • Host a special monthly service. It could be focused on music, could be held just for women, just for men, just for youth, just for MILLENNIALS, etc. Give people something to look forward to that is just for them.
  • Bring in different groups or teams from your church to talk about how to get involved
    • Use a sermon to talk about the importance of mentorship. You could have willing high school or middle school kids looking for a mentor speak and then allow your Millennials to walk up and ‘sign up’ to be a mentor.
    • Bring in your Missions Team – show a video, do a Q&A, talk about the impact that was made and how to get involved
    • Talk about Volunteering Opportunities within the church like helping with Sunday check-in, youth ministries, and outreach programs
  • Utilize your choir. Have your choir enter with a powerful song – I love a good and powerful choir.

Now you are ready to go get those M words! And remember, M stands for Millennials, not Mysteries!

*Sources: Conscious Company, Visually, danschwabel.com, cnbc.com

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