GIVING | May 8, 2024

3 Church Leadership Conversations on Giving

Church leaders talk about financial matters all the time, and it is not uncommon for these conversations to be focused primarily on the progress toward your giving goals. For an effective financial stewardship strategy that starts at the top, expand your financial discussions to include the topics that affect your givers.

Giving Conversation #1:

The Need for Transparency and Accountability About Church Spending Decisions

More and more people have a heightened sensitivity to excess and fraud in charitable organizations. So, the church’s annual report should cover income, expenses and assets in an easily accessible format for members.

It’s also a good idea to:

  • Host regular open meetings (with access to minutes for those who can’t attend) so members can ask questions and learn details on the church’s activities and decisions
  • Appoint independent auditors to review financial records
  • Issue background checks on staff and volunteers annually
  • Use secure giving software with an audit trail feature to prevent fraud
  • Have a policy in place to allow concerns to be reported without fear of retribution

Giving Conversation #2:

The Health of Giving Trends

In the 2023 Annual Stewardship Survey, 59% of small and 76% of large churches report being on track to meet or exceed their annual giving goals. While these numbers are encouraging, progress toward the annual giving goal alone is not a good indicator of healthy giving. A few metrics that better determine “health” include:

  • Percentage of households giving- Focus on household over individual metrics; it is a more reliable measure of giving trends.
  • Frequency of household giving- Categorized across irregular, regular, recurring, etc., frequency is a better measure of overall giving trends than giving amount.
  • Age of household members- If most of your consistent givers are older, plan ahead as they will eventually age out.
  • Percentage of top donors- 10% is a healthy percentage of top-giver contributions.

Be sure to measure your digital attendees as well. In the post-Covid world of declining in-person attendance, overlooking digital attendees can result in overlooking essential trends.

Giving Conversation #3:

The Role of Technology in Giving

It’s great that more and more churches recognize the need to make giving convenient and accessible for church members via online giving, mobile giving apps and text-to-give. Unfortunately, most platforms fail to demonstrate impact or engage givers with their “payment” based experience.

Consider that 64% of people say they would give more if they knew the impact of their gifts (Source: Fidelity Charity). This stat, plus the fact that religion’s overall share of giving is declining while it is increasing across non-profit sectors points to the importance of demonstrating the impact of generosity even during the act of giving (something most non-profits do very well).

For every gift given – at the moment of giving and through your acknowledgment – be sure your giving platform demonstrates the excellent work your church is doing for your members, community, and world.

For Further Reading

Stewarding Your Calling and Purpose

Capital Campaigns and Biblical Stewardship

How to Use “Thank You” as a Powerful Opportunity to Connect with Givers

When God Provides a Surplus, it’s Always for a Purpose

Marriage and Money

Engaging Givers from First Gift to Lapsed or Legacy

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