In the workshop I'm attending at the UUMA Institute, we've been talking about the different generations in our church and what motivates them to come, what calls them to be involved, and what they care about. We've talked about what incidents shaped and defined these generations. Today, the thought that came to me, prompted by something said by a colleague, was that if the generations are motivated by different things, not only does our membership and outreach efforts need to be targeted differently to each group, our pledge drive might be more effective if targeted differently to each group.
So, for example, the Silent Generation, born 1925-1945 are builders and institutionalists. They dislike debt. The Great Depression had a big impact on them, and they like frugality. They are civic-minded, and the older members of this generation may have served in WWII, younger ones in the Korean War. A pledge campaign that emphasizes the institutional needs and building needs will be something they might connect to more than one that emphasizes mission and vision or social justice or programming. They also may respond to debt retirement campaigns. A lot of this is also true for the generation that preceded them, the G.I. Generation.
The Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964 are very different from their parents. Baby Boomers sometime like new experiences and sometimes like to be pampered a bit. They like having a vision and are associated with rejecting some traditional values. Hippies were Baby Boomers, as were Yuppies. Baby boomers are more likely to give to programming, and to vision, and to social justice work.
Generation X, born from 1965 through the mid-eighties, are cynical about the lack of the vision of the Baby Boomers coming to fruition. They tend to be pragmatic, but also to thrive on change and starting up new ideas. If you have a new program to institute--and if it's practical with a solid plan--the Generation X members may be motivated to give to that. Many of them have young children now, and are motivated by practical aspects of church life that involve their children, i.e. religious education.
Millennials, born between the eighties and 2000, are also having children now, at least the older ones. They like technology, and are generally more optimistic than the generation that preceded them, and are more visionary and less pragmatic. They are entrepreneurial and they like to have positive feedback. They are less interested in joining organized religion, but those that are involved are more embracing of multiculturalism and diversity than generations that preceded them. They may be motivated to give to projects that embrace their values, and to ones where they have the opportunity to lead or to learn.
Of course, these are broad stereotypes, and people may completely disagree. But I'd like to hear less about what you disagree with than about what you think motivates your own generation or those you're in close connection with. Our workshop is much more focused about how to attract and involve different generations -- this was just a side thought of mine about how this information that I've been focused on for years in these other arenas might be used in a pledge drive as well.