Health and Growth

GenZ's Wealth, Giving, and Financial Habits (Critical Stats Churches Should Know)

In 20 years, GenZ will have over $20T in purchasing power (and giving power). They are every church's future giving base. Understand them to understand your future.

GenZ's Wealth, Giving, and Financial Habits (Critical Stats Churches Should Know)
by

Paul Maxwell

Generation Z (GenZ) is the fastest-growing wealth base in the world.

It’s popular to speaking of “Millennials” when speaking of the “next generation.”

But this is misguided.

Millennials are about to enter their 40s, and Generation Z is about to start taking salaried positions that command a larger purchasing power within our global economy than any other single generation.

In order to understand GenZ, their attitudes toward money, their values which drive charitable efforts, and how institutions can begin crafting donation appeals to GenZ, it is necessary first to look at the hard data.

Once we can get our arms around who GenZ is and what they want, we can better understand how their financial practices and values will inform and shape the next generation of non-profit fundraising, church tithing, and religious participation of what will be our largest generation to date.

Who Is GenZ Really?

GenZ is made up of those born between 1997 and 2010.

GenZ currently comprises 25% of the population—the largest generation in the world. It is larger than Boomers, Xers, and Millennials.

GenZ is also the most ethnically diverse generation in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau)

More than that, GenZ is expected to reach 2.6 billion individuals by 2020 (MediaKix).

They are not as emotionally driven as millennials, are more oriented toward STEM disciplines (as opposed to the humanities-oriented millennials), and tend to be more socially and digitally mobile than millennials.

GenZ is, without a doubt, a true digitally native population. The oldest of GenZ were only 7 when the iPhone was released, and those only a couple years younger have never known a world without screen-centered parents.

These experiences and practices inform how GenZ relates to their growing capital, how their values channel that capital, and what are the best ways to fundraise from them as they grow into an older and younger community of professionally self-developed potential donors.

1. GenZ uses eCommerce more than any generation

GenZ spends a median of 5 hours a day on their phones. Only 2% of GenZ reports watching cable television at all. More than that, 96% of GenZers own a smartphone (Global Web Index) — the largest percentage of any generation.

As mentioned above, GenZ is a population of true digital natives.

GenZ will likely be the first generation to contain a large constituency whose purchases are 100% digital. In other words, GenZ will be the first generation to yield a true cashless population.

Churches need to take this into account as they strategize fundraising and generating tithes from GenZ in 20 years. If they don’t have a primarily digital fundraising strategy now, they are setting an awfully low ceiling for their capital potential over the next several decades.

2. GenZ is highly dependent on YouTube for information and education

Only 10% of GenZ reported using Facebook regularly, and over 78% have a YouTube account. More than that, 70% of GenZ kids visit YouTube daily (Influenster).

Defy Media’s “Constant Content” report found that GenZers watch 11.3 hours of YouTube per week.  More than that, 67% of GenZers say they couldn’t live without YouTube (Defy Media).

This means that if companies, organizations, and churches want to reach GenZ, they need to start using video and audio quickly. The marketplace will only become more competitive in the next decade.

3. GenZ represents a large purse of global purchasing power

GenZ receives an average allowance of nearly $70 per month, comprising its $44 billion a year total (CoreSight research; Adweek).

This is a fairly small number, relatively speaking. Over $400 Billion is donated annually to charitable causes alone. And yet, most of GenZ hasn’t yet entered the workforce. 

However, this number will grow by a factor of over 10x in the next decade, with costs of living decreasing as this generation becomes increasingly geographically agile. 

This means that GenZ will play a powerful role in the shaping of the next generation of church culture—not only because of their youthfulness, but also because of their financial and political influence. 

Churches unable or unwilling to cater to this generation will simply go the way of the dodo.

4. GenZ cares about humanitarian causes

The top 3 causes that GenZ cares about are: (1) children and youth, (2) animals, and (3) education (2018 Global Trends in Giving).

These causes are distinctively humanitarian.

GenZ cares about stopping pain experienced by humans and animals alike.

This set of values indicates a strong empathy among the GenZ population—perhaps more than millennials and Gen X—which means that churches who want to acquire the hearts and minds of GenZ as members and charitable givers need to figure out how to angle their mission in terms of preventing and stopping needless pain in the world. 

Without an appeal to this core and distinctively GenZ value, churches will have a hard time reaching this growing wealth base.

5. GenZ is inspired to give most often by social media

The Crowdrise report (by GoFundMe) shows that GenZ (more than any other generation) is inspired by social media to give—63%, compared with Millennials 39%.

This means that there will be a growing competition between social media on-platform “Donation” buttons and off-platform donation links sponsored and shared through social media.

GenZ’s money and attention is increasingly directed through social media to other sites—the only question is: what will be the terminal point of that money and attention, and who will control what are the terms and conditions of that capital?

The variable of social media-prompted giving will only become more complicated in the coming years as GenZ attention becomes an increasingly valuable commodity. 

6. GenZ is least likely to use Facebook

GenZers get their first social account, on average, at age 7.

But these social accounts are not what you think.

They’re not creating Facebook accounts.

They’re not creating Twitter accounts.

GenZ is more likely to use Snapchat and YouTube than any other social media accounts.

Put simply: GenZ uses YouTube, not Facebook. 

That’s a hard pill for older generations to swallow: Facebook is for old people

Pure and simple, GenZ doesn’t want to be on Facebook and doesn’t use Facebook. This will come as a shock to many, since only 10 years ago, Facebook was the cool new toy all the young kids were using. No longer.

7. Even with small capital, GenZ still donates at a surprisingly high rate

The oldest GenZ population is 22 years old, and yet with their small collection of capital, 32% have given their own money or allowances to a cause. More than that, 26% have raised money on behalf of a cause (NonProfit Hub)

This means that GenZ is passionate about charitable giving. But the cause has to make sense to them and relate somehow to their values of preventing and ending suffering in the world.

8. GenZ desires to donate their time as well as their money

77% of GenZ are extremely interested in volunteering to gain work experience (NonProfit Hub)

Nonprofits should take this as a cue: Get GenZ to be involved in your organization. Donors are much more likely to donate to a cause with which they have volunteered before. Volunteering fosters an organic relationship that cultivates nostalgia, value, and a reason to give when wealth is generated at a later age. 

In other words—nonprofits and churches should be creating an economy of opportunity for GenZ now so that they can reap an economy of real-cash return in the next several decades.

Over to you

The information in this article is critical to generating an informed and effective strategy for partnering with the largest, fastest-growing wealth base in the world.

Churches must recognize the cash value of acquiring GenZ’s attention and brand loyalty now so that they have a nostalgic and value-informed connection when they are able to contribute in more powerful and scalable ways in the 2030s and beyond.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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GenZ's Wealth, Giving, and Financial Habits (Critical Stats Churches Should Know)