5 Tips for Churches to Increase Consistent Givers
How many of your church members are consistent givers? What percentage truly give 10% of their income?
While overall philanthropic giving has increased, giving to churches and places of worship has declined from 50% of charitable giving to 32% today. A Barna research study found that while one out of every six adults claimed to tithe to their churches, only 6% donated one-tenth of their income.
Growing consistent givers is critical for churches to build a financial foundation to achieve their spiritual vision. Yet many churches and places of worship continue to struggle to grow the frequency of giving from their members.
As the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience & Success at Givelify, I have more than 15 years of experience as a pastor. Through coaching hundreds of Givelify customers and growing the financial success of my own congregation, I understand the keys to building a culture of generosity.
Check out these five research-backed and proven tips to grow consistent givers in your congregation. They will transform giving at your church.
Tip #1: Support financial stewardship
Without financial stability, your congregation members may never feel they are able to become a consistent giver. Part of the responsibility in faith is in supporting communities where they are.
According to a 2021 CNBC report, the average American has more than $90,000 in debt and even though income has increased over $35,000 per household since 2000, the average household now carries 300% more debt than at the turn of the century. Research shows debt affects minority families at higher rates than whites. As of 2021, Black students on average had $52,000 in student loan debt.
If your congregation does not currently offer financial stewardship, consider developing a program to support your congregation members this year.
Integrate programming to teach on spending, budgeting, savings, and debt. Lean on existing free online resources, like those produced by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.
Tip #2: Teach on giving
Research shows that when churches teach on giving regularly, they see a direct correlation to financial growth. A recent study by the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving revealed that when churches taught on giving monthly, 73% saw financial growth. That figure grew to 90% when they taught giving weekly.
Adding the importance of giving to regular sermons is critical to helping your congregants understand the importance of giving as part of their faith journey. Lean on free online resources or your faith networks for teaching on giving resources, such as this short article from Biblelyfe on 39 bible verses on giving.
As you begin to integrate more teaching on giving, help your congregation by providing a path through which they can grow their giving.
Share the following milestones with your congregation to begin their giving journey to become a consistent giver:
- Step #1: Give something. Start by aligning a campaign around a specific mission your church is trying to achieve. Ask each member to give $2. Something is a start – and $2 is achievable for everyone. This small ask will start people on their path to giving.
- Step #2: Plan what to give for a year. Encourage your congregation at the start of the year to make a personal plan for what they will give. Revisit this plan monthly and ask how they are progressing against their goals. Encourage and support their achievements.
- Step #3: Give regularly throughout the year. Once a church member begins giving consistently, such as monthly, they have progressed to the next stage in their giving journey. Encourage your members to setup recurring giving to meet their giving goals.
Not all members may be ready to commit to an automatic giving withdrawal. Members can setup reminders at a frequency of their choosing through the Givelify mobile app. This feature encourages giving while still empowering members to feel connected to and empowered by their decision to give.
- Step #4: Increase giving each year. Encourage your church members to look at their giving goals from the past year. Challenge them to increase their giving to a level that is comfortable for them.
- Step #5: Begin to give a tithe or give a goal amount on a consistent basis. If your congregation aligns with tithing practices, encourage them to follow either the scriptural guidance on tithing or commit to giving a consistent amount on a regular basis.
- Step #6: Encourage others to tithe. Once a member is tithing, encourage them to share the joy and satisfaction of tithing with family, friends, and others in their church.
- Step #7: Give above and beyond the tithe. The ultimate step in the giving journey is for a member to exceed their consistent giving from prior years to truly embody a culture of generosity.
Tip #3: Give your members a cause
Understanding generational differences in your church and how messages resonate with each group is crucial to developing a meaningful giving appeal.
The Millennial Impact Report, supported by the Case Foundation, found that 90% of millennials believe a compelling cause – not an organization – motivated them to give.
Millennials volunteer their time at unprecedented rates compared to prior generations. They are also giving financially. Yet they are more likely to give to nonprofit causes with a clearly articulated social impact.
If your congregation has a growing younger population, keep in mind generational expectations for cause-related messaging.
Try keeping these three key recommendations in mind when making your giving appeals:
- Always align your appeal with your community impact. When making giving appeals, be mindful of how you phrase your asks. An appeal to “pay the bills” or “meet this year’s budget goals” may not resonate with all members of your congregation. Reference a movement or the impact on your community, instead of basic needs.
- Share regularly and effectively your church’s impact and outcomes. Your church or place of worship is already doing amazing work in the community, whether you are spearheading vaccine drives, alleviating food insecurity, or providing a place of haven for those struggling with homelessness. Share these stories! Remember to use existing channels such as newsletters, blogs, social media pages, and email blasts to remind congregants of the good your church is putting in the world and the impact of those activities.
- Share inspiring giving stories. Regularly share stories from first-time givers and the impact their gifts made. Share stories of members who have become financially secure and how their giving has increased as a result.
Share the impact your congregation is having in the community. In Givelify’s Bravo! Stories of Good series, we highlight congregations like yours that are making a lasting impact on the lives of their members and the greater community. Watch our stories and get inspired as to how you may share yours.
Tip #4: Show gratitude
Here are quick, yet impactful ways you can show your regular appreciation for financial gifts received. Choose one of the following and make a point of doing it this week.
- Look at who donated last week. Write five handwritten notes to thank them for their generosity (especially if they do not donate regularly!) In Givelify’s Analytics Studio, you can quickly see who donated last week and see if they are a first-time donor with Giving Styles.
- Prepare a personalized email campaign. Thank all first-time givers from the last month and share at least one impact their gift made.
- Organize a consistent giver get-together. Organize a special event for the most consistent givers in your congregation to thank them for supporting the mission of the church.
- Reach out to those who stopped giving. See if any members who used to give consistently recently stopped giving. Call at least three members to check-in on how they are doing and if the church can support them at all.
- Thank your volunteers. In addition to appreciating financial gifts, show appreciation for volunteer hours through verbal recognition, handwritten notes, or phone calls. This appreciation will help build loyalty, especially among donors who cannot afford to give financially yet.
Tip #5: Make giving easy
Along with generational differences in giving appeals, different preferences on how to give are still alive and present in every congregation. Ensure you provide ample ways for your members to give.
Research shows digital giving is proven to grow your donations financially. In fact, Nonprofit Source research found online giving increases overall church donations by 32%.
Ensure you have the following giving options available to your congregation:
- Mobile App Giving: Mobile app donations drive more consistent financial growth than other giving forms.
- Online Giving: As of 2020, online giving was the No. 1 way people donate to churches.
- Social Giving: Use Givelify’s social giving links on your social media channels.
- Quick Scan QR Codes: Use Givelify’s Snap-to-Give QR code that’s branded specifically for your church.
- Traditional Giving: As a last resort, provide offer plates or baskets for traditional givers.
Offering giving options and reinforcing the use of those options are two different challenges. Few churches provide ongoing training for members who may need more assistance in learning how to adopt new forms of giving, such as through a mobile app.
Research shows adult learners need to hear something at least three times to retain knowledge – ideally in varied forms, such as audibly, visually, and via experience.
Here are a few tips on how to continue to support your congregation in learning to give:
- Build regular giving instructions into your sermons or during the giving appeal portion of your worship service.
- Offer a set time each Sunday or during the week when church volunteers to guide inexperienced users.
- Print out giving instruction packets and make available around your church buildings.
- Offer or email take-home materials to new church attendees.
- Attend and read materials from Givelify about new features in the product and how they may help your members give.
- Identify “giving champions” in your congregation who other members can go to if they have questions about how to give.
- Encourage your members to use digital reminders and/or recurring donations. Reminders are built into the Givelify app as a gentle nudge for givers, while keeping the faith element in the act of giving.
Grow Consistent Givers
We hope these tips help your church make changes this year to develop a culture of ongoing and consistent generosity in your congregation.