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By: Derek Gillette, @DerekGilletteCo

Brands and marketers are scrambling these days trying to connect with a growing demographic that is, well, harder to connect with. They’re not the only ones.

Millennials and now Generation Z are increasingly difficult to retain and satisfy as the options for entertainment and activities is pervasive. The popular acronym “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) itself represents a mindset that better options are always out there.

So how do we engage twentysomethings today?

Part of what millennials want is to have meaningful lives. They, or we for that matter, want to associate and engage with things that matter to us and make us feel inspired.

The other part of engaging young people today is using the right format. Even though tithing and giving today is on the decline, there has been a huge spike in digital giving. Of the $105.53 billion given to faith-based organizations in 2013, 4.2% of gifts were made online (up 18.1% from 2012).(i)

Here are a few ways Millennials see giving and handling money differently today:

1. They like to invest in ideas. There’s been a lot of work to create awareness about poverty and various human rights atrocities. Now we care a lot more about building something that will help prevent these things (poverty, hunger and human trafficking) altogether. Have you noticed the term “social enterprise” is on the rise? As the discussion on international development and aid is advancing, so is our interest in innovative ideas to contribute to–and invest in.

2. You can create impact when you buy, too. Creatives and aspiring world-changers have captured hold of the opportunity to blend social impact with business. Many startup brands these days not only sell cool stuff, but also have a social component to them. Products that create jobs for the poor or donate a portion of proceeds to a charity partner are cool ways to make justice a lifestyle. Check out Boll & Branch’s new fair trade and organic throw blankets, or these leather clutches and jewelry from fashionABLE.

3. It’s the experience that matters. Benefit concerts, raffles for celebrity meet and greets, or online fundraising campaigns to “Donate Your Birthday” make giving today feel like a shared experience, not a transaction.(ii) Stories go a long way, too. Kickstarter’s Founder recently started Dollar a Day, where you commit to donate a dollar each day, and they send you an email each morning with the story of the non-profit your dollar went to. It’s more than just the dollar, it’s learning about hundreds (literally) of new organizations doing great work.

4. No, they don’t have checkbooks. But they do have a phone. If we are not carrying around cash, we’re certainly not carrying around checkbooks. But we have Venmo, and many churches now offer digital giving from the touch of your phone. At eChurchGiving, we found that 85 percent of users give up trying to donate on their phone if process takes longer than 30 seconds. The average time it takes to donate online can take up to three or more minutes. We need frictionless engagement for when we want to pay or give.

5. Instagram (and every other emerging platform) matters. Yes, “slacktivism” carries a bad reputation. But aside from our money, the next most valuable thing we have is our personal brand. Much of the way we share ideas and learn about new ones is through social media. From running creative fundraising and awareness campaigns to posting pictures of our hands, we believe that, yes, Instagram selfies do really matter.

When I grew up, it was cool not to care, about anything. Saggy pants and poor posture (not to mention one-word answers), were the character traits of many popular figures. I’m glad that’s not the case anymore. The rise of technology has made intellect and conversation a valuable commodity. Combine that with the shared desire to leave the world a better place, it’s all of a sudden really really cool to care.

And not just to care, but it’s cool to do something about it.

About the Writer


Derek Gillette

Derek is the Communications Manager for eChurchGiving and Pushpay. He and his wife share a life mission to create meaningful conversations through vulnerability. Connect with him: @DerekGilletteCo

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Sources: (i) “Giving Estimated At $335.17 Billion For 2013 – The NonProfit TimesThe NonProfit Times.” The NonProfit Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. (ii) “Help Change the World. One Birthday at a Time.” Donate Your Birthday. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

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