This issue is true both with secular non-profits and religious organizations. For the last generation, when people donated money they wanted to be noticed. That’s why your local medical center, library, or university dorm is named after somebody. How many churches – and religious radio and TV stations have a giant painted tree in the lobby with donor names on the leaves? Or maybe your entrance has those names carved into bricks.
The last generation of givers needed something in return. Is that why “seed faith” was invented? Good question. Having people realize they could get blessed with a miracle made it more easy to give. Sure there is a Biblical basis for givers being blessed, but we should really be giving because it’s the right thing to do and God commands us to do it.
Now a new generation agrees. We have yet to get accurate information, but early on, I’m finding that givers today don’t necessarily need to have their name engraved on a brick, or get a trinket in return. Hopefully, that means the avalanche of “Jesus Junk” will decline.
Has the change already happened? No. The vast majority of ministry and non-profit supporters are still the older generation and they need to be communicated with on their terms. But the winds of change are blowing, and we’re already seeing the impact. That’s why if you’re putting all your eggs in the basket of traditional givers, you’re about to be caught with your pants down. If you’re in this for the long haul, you need to start thinking now about how to reach the next generation of potential givers.
Don’t get me wrong – teaching the next generation to give to important causes will be tough. This will be a difficult transition between generations, and some ministries will close their doors in the process – especially those who aren’t paying attention to the changes. But hopefully, it also means this new generation will learn that it’s about others, not about them.