Growing Church Giving

This Sunday at church I found out that we are upgrading our online giving platform, making giving easier and more secure for me. I’m pleased, but not surprised that my church is so avant-garde in stewardship. The problem is that many churches are not, so I did a bit of research and found some interesting data.

Church Giving is Growing and Changing

Last year of the $410 billion in total philanthropy, the largest share (31% or $127 billion) went to church or Para-church organizations. And that doesn’t include faith-based giving to religious schools, hospitals and social service agencies.

Almost 7.5 % of that was given online. Online giving has increased by more than 50% over the last several years, growing from $19.1 billion in 2012 to $31 billion in 2017. In addition, the average online gift was $128 and 67% of nonprofit organizations are set up to receive donations online.

What I find interesting is the fact that the largest recipients of online gifts have been faith-based organizations. I also found other important church data:

  • 49% of church giving happens using a credit card.
  • People attending church regularly are 11 times more likely to give.
  • 8 of 10 people who give to churches have zero credit debt.
  • Tithers comprise 10-25% of a normal congregation.
  • Churches that accept tithing online are increasing donations overall by 32%.
  • 37% of regular church attendees don’t give to church.
  • 17% of American families reduced amounts they give to churches.
  • 77% of tithers actually give 11%–20% of their income.
  • On average, Christians give 2.5% of income.

So what Can Churches do?

What does all of this mean for the church…or how can we use this data?

First, since we know that increasing numbers of congregants or parishioners prefer giving by credit card and online, if they haven’t done so already churches need to adapt to accommodate that. Develop online giving platforms and also include credit card options on giving envelopes.

Second, if regular attendees are more likely to give and only 10-25% of the membership tithe, there is much room for growth. However, capturing that growth requires well-planned strategies that include but are not limited to the following 7 suggestions:

  • Create a friendly church culture, so people return. Also plan 3-4 messages on stewardship and in particular on tithing. A lot of pastors are reluctant to do this, but it’s part of the full counsel of the Gospel.
  • Don’t just pass the plate on Sunday. Allow people to use smart-phones. Change your website. Choose digital giving software that allows people to give by text, mobile apps., etc.
  • Generate thank you notes to people who give online, through text, or directly. Use online responses or hand written notes. Currently, most churches aren’t good at showing appreciation.
  • Incorporate personal testimonies of church members into the messages on stewardship.
  • Offer financial classes for members. If they can manage funds better, they‘ll have more to give.
  • Create church annual reports that are transparent about outcomes and how funds are used.
  • Appeal to the 37% who don’t give by clearly articulating your needs and how funds given are used.

Finally, giving begins with your church leadership. Leaders set the pace. If the elders or deacons or parish council members (those closest to the church) aren’t willing to give, it’s difficult to motivate other church members to do so. While it’s difficult to tell what people have given individually, it’s much easier to say that the leadership group has 100% participation and collectively they have committed X amount of dollars.