Millennial ministry donors are more likely than their elders to pay attention to just about every channel of communication from a ministry.  Ministry donors pay the most attention to messages they hear in church — three times the attention they say they give to social media.  Hearing a friend recommend a ministry also gets a lot of attention regardless of age.

But compared to donors age 35+, Millennials are much more attentive to their friends, to email, to social media, at their workplaces, and to text messages. They pay about the same attention to direct mail and phone calls as older donors.

What’s more, every generation pays attention to channels in the exact same sequence.  In other words, both Millennials and Silent generation donors pay the most attention to a ministry’s church presentation and to friends, and the least attention to a phone call.  Direct mail gets a moderate amount of attention from every generation — more than from social media, but less than from an event.

What does this all mean for your organization’s donor contact?

  1. Use the channels that catch your donors’ eyes.  If they pay less attention to messages in the workplace, follow their lead.  Spend more of your time and energy reaching them through productive channels.
  2. Your ministry doesn’t necessarily need to vary its marketing channel based on your target generation; just continue with whatever media mix works best for you.
  3. However, it’s crucial to deliver messages in your channel mix that fits the audience you seek to reach.  If your organization appeals to many generations, this might mean tailoring one direct mail message to Boomers and another to Millennials, because each generation responds differently according to its unique culture.

Millennials pay more attention to ministry messages in just about every channel compared to older generations.  The silver lining is that older generations are attuned to many highly effective media channels as well.


Results are from an online survey of 16,100 ministry donors conducted by Campbell Rinker on behalf of 17 ECFA members in November 2016. Visit ECFA for more details.