Can You Hear Me Now?

Communication // August 26, 2010

The Chronicle of Philanthropy published interesting facts about Generation Y: People in their 20s. Encompassing data from multiple sources, the snapshots provide intriguing insight into the preferences and attitudes of the millennial.

  • 93% say they prefer to receive updates from charities via email.
  • 37% joined a charity’s online social network in the past month.
  • 29% made their donations online in the past two years.
  • 83% slept with their cell phones on or near their beds.
  • 20 is the median number of text messages sent a 24-hours span.
  • 21% say helping others is one of their biggest priorities.
  • $341 is the average amount members of Generation Y donate annually.
  • 3.6 is the average number of groups they choose to support with donations.

There are a number of potential articles coming out of this list, aren’t there? This time though, let’s focus on communication – not the message itself, but how it is delivered. As a ministry leader, it is vital that you consider the way every generation in your congregation thinks. They have different preferences about how they receive information. The criteria for selecting organizations that will receive their charitable dollar vary dramatically!

My parents are in their mid-70s. They read everything they receive from their church, whether it comes in the mail or is handed out as they enter the sanctuary – worship bulletins, newsletters and meeting minutes. They prefer that content in print, even though both are very computer savvy and active with email and social media.

Andrea and I are at the tail end of the baby boom generation. We are technology immigrants, but leverage email, Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, etc. We tend to read what we value, regardless of the format in which it is delivered. That which arrives electronically is read first, but we do get to the printed stuff too.

Now take our son – he turns 20 next month. He carries a cell phone, but doesn’t usually answer it when it rings (unless it is work or his girlfriend). His primary mode of communication is text messaging. Youth his age and younger feel that email is too slow and is not an effective method of communication.

If you are communicating a static message through one channel, I can assure you that the message is not being received by everyone under your care. Much like an AM radio signal, you are being heard by those still using AM radios, but your message is not being picked up by those who prefer to listen to stations on FM, satellite, and/or digital radio bands. The message is critical. But the channels you choose to communicate that message are equally important.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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