Cover Story: Know Your Mission, Grow Your Mission
As an example of ways faith-based groups are adapting to that challenge, Faircloth points to Prison Fellowship Ministries, which created the "Next Generation Initiative" that focuses on the social-justice aspect of its ministry to get younger people on board. "While that may not translate into immediate fundraising success, they are building a foundation by sowing the seeds now that will reap the rewards later," he explains.
While every organization needs to continually feed the large end of the funnel, faith-based charities face the challenge of attracting not only new donors, but ones who react to different messaging than their older counterparts and give for very different reasons.
"While I don't have any quantitive data to back this up, my observation is that the younger generation [communicating mainly] online is going to respond more to the charitable and social-justice aspects of faith-based ministries," Faircloth says. "They gravitate toward the 'love thy neighbor' teachings of the Bible, whereas the older generation seem to gravitate more toward the 'go and make disciples of all nations' teachings.
"Both are quite Biblical, and the end results may be the same in that the gospel is being spread," he says, "but the approach is quite different."
Like most charitable sectors, faith-based organizations also must look at adding online strategies to their fundraising toolboxes. Especially in the face of major disasters around the world, where people who give out of a sense of moral or spiritual duty tend to be most active, the immediacy offered online is vital to tapping in to those motivations.
"With online you can tap in to the immediacy of the situation," Faircloth says. "For example, with the Haiti earthquake, you could have an e-mail out to your supporters and prospecting mailing lists within hours — and that's quite compelling."