Substantial Differences in Giving Patterns Between Younger and Older Evangelicals

“Younger donors think about giving very differently from older donors,” according to research conducted jointly by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research. A survey of 1,000 evangelical donors covering a wide range of ages found that evangelical donors under age 40 differ from older donors in almost every way. Specifically, younger donors show these characteristics as compared to donors age 40 and higher:

• More likely to prefer overseas giving to domestic (34% to 28%)

• More open to giving beyond their local area (48% to 26%)

• Almost as likely to want to learn about new organizations as they are to prefer supporting what’s already familiar to them (41% to 45%)

• Much more likely to want to spread their money around to different causes rather than concentrate on a few (49% to 31%)

• Far more likely to want to support a wide variety of organizations over a small number (46% to 35%)

• Almost as likely to give “spur of the moment” as to plan their giving in advance (39% to 43%)

ECFA’s mission is to help ministries and churches enhance trust, and the study affirms that trust-building is increasingly important with today’s younger givers. Among evangelical donors in general, almost half (48%) are more likely to trust an organization until it proves unworthy of their trust than they are to doubt an organization until it proves it is trustworthy. However, one-third (33%) say it is the other way around: they tend to doubt organizations until the organizations show they are worthy of trust. The remaining 19% put themselves squarely in the middle, neither trusting nor distrusting organizations at first, but taking a wait-and-see attitude.

This outlook changes markedly with age. While older evangelical donors come down heavily on the side of starting with trust (60% to 25%), evangelical donors under age 40 are less likely to start by trusting an organization (35% to 42%).

These findings suggest an increased need for organizations to demonstrate trustworthiness, rather than assuming donors will start by trusting them.

The 31-page report is titled The Generation Gap: Evangelical Giving Preferences, and is a free download.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.