When it comes to charitable giving, Evangelicals over 40 tend to focus more on domestic efforts and have formed preferences for what they want to support. For their younger counterparts, however, a new study shows donors have a more “global mindset” and a broader range of causes they want to support with their dollars.
Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts, a brand communication agency that “inspires people of faith to action through consulting, branding, fundraising, public relations, creative, traditional media and digital media,” partnered to conduct the recently released study titled “The Generation Gap: Evangelical Giving Preferences.”
The study is based on input from more than 1,000 American Evangelical Protestants.
In the study, the respondents in the national sample of Evangelical Protestants were presented with eight pairs of descriptions about giving. They were asked which choice in each pair best describes them.
Researchers used a seven-point scale, allowing respondents to say whether a description fits them very much, moderately, just a little, in the middle or not at all.
The responses of younger Evangelical donors under 40 yielded several substantial differences from those of older Evangelicals.
“While there are many differences among younger Evangelical donors, what stands out even more is how different younger donors are from older donors,” researchers wrote in the report.
“Younger donors are far less given to focusing on their local area or even domestic work in general. At least regarding charitable giving among Evangelicals, it appears to be true that the younger generations have a much more global mindset than their parents or grandparents,” researchers added. “This spells significant opportunity for international organizations, but also potential long-term concern for local/domestic charities.”
Mark Dreistadt, the founder and president of Infinity Concepts, painted younger Evangelical donors as unique in a statement shared with The Christian Post Tuesday.
“Younger donors have a much more international focus,” he said. “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.”
Earlier research shows that about 74% of the estimated 59 million Evangelicals in America gave money at some point during the last 12 months to a church they attended. Another 58% gave money to some other type of nonprofit organization, charity or ministry outside of a church. It is this area of giving on which the new study focuses.
The data shows that younger Evangelicals are interested in a broader scope of causes than their parents and grandparents.
“Younger donors also appear to value variety. Although the actual number of organizations they support is not vastly different, they see themselves as supporting a wider variety of organizations and causes than others do,” the study reads, noting it’s unclear if the desire for variety changes as people get older.
If the trend doesn’t change, researchers argue how charitable organizations that depend on donor loyalty for their survival and market to younger Evangelicals will likely have to change.
“If this is indeed a long-term change in attitude and behavior, it may cause some waves among charities and ministries as these younger donors grow into the core donor audience. A desire for greater variety could lead to less loyalty to specific organizations and causes, less likelihood of recruiting sustainers (i.e., monthly givers) from this population, and a greater need for donor retention activities,” the researchers noted.
“Conceivably there could be smaller or more infrequent gifts if younger donors continue to want to spread their giving around to a greater extent than older donors have.”
Another possibility could be that younger donors “may become more settled in their
giving choices and adopt similar in preference to their older counterparts.”
While it was noted that older Evangelicals still served as core donors for many organizations, Grey Matter Research President Ron Sellers said many ministries and charities looking to survive might need to provide more diversity in their programming.
“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,” Sellers said. “Organizations may need to provide more variety in programs and messaging to retain these donors.”