The Summer Slump. It’s a steady fixture in conversations among church officials and staffs. Whether it’s family vacations lasting a week or snowbirds heading North for six months, wherever your church is located you’ve likely felt the effects.
But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way?
Church Giving App Statistics Disprove “Facts”
I’ll admit right up front that I’m not much of a math person. Perhaps you can identify with this trait. Turn math into pictures, though, and things become more clear. Let’s get the mathy numbers part out of the way.
In an effort to better understand giving patterns, analysts at Givelify looked at data from over two million transactions between 2014 and 2017. What they found was eye-opening:
During the months of May through August, year over year, mobile donations showed no significant decrease compared to other months.
In fact, rather than corroborating the Summer Slump ideology, mobile donations served to normalize giving levels over the course of a calendar year.
Fair Warning, Here Comes the Math
While clearly a bit lower than the prime giving months of February and March (the lead-up to Easter Sunday) and December (end-of-year giving for both religious and tax-related motivations), the median mobile donation during the summer months of May-August was $40, compared to $45 in February and December.
(For reference, “median” refers to a value or quantity lying at the midpoint of a frequency distribution of observed values or quantities, such that there is an equal probability of falling above or below it. In this case it means that there were an equal number of donations greater than and less than $40 from May-August 2014-2017. Sorry for the mathiness.)
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During this same time period of May-August 2014-2017, the average donation per donor hovered around $80, compared to $90 in December and February. This $80 average was higher than the January average, and insignificantly lower than the other months.
(An average is a number expressing the central or typical value in a set of data, which is calculated by dividing the sum of the values in the set by their number. In other words, we took the dollar value of all donations made, added them up, and divided that by the number of donations. Again with the math.)
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What Does It All Mean?
Okay, enough with the numbers. What does all this mean for your church giving? What is the reason for the Summer Slump being all but eliminated? The answer is simple: anytime, anywhere giving.
Having a church giving app that allows your members to give anytime, anywhere, mitigates the Summer Slump to the point that it basically doesn’t exist. Rather than seeing a sizable dip in donations due to vacations, snowbirding, or a lack of emphasis, giving levels hold steady.
In addition to making the means to give available wherever your members are, the ability to set recurring donations is a huge plus. Whether they set a bi-weekly standard offering or they’re moved to give in the moment, a church giving app makes it possible for your members to give whether they’re present in church or not.
Reach Them Where They Are
I do quite a bit of reading on a daily basis, researching trends in church and charitable donations. I also look for new ideas and tools to make Givelify better, and keep up on the overall state of mobile apps.
Since late May, I’ve noticed considerably less content like blog and social posts being produced by church and ministry oriented blogs and social media outlets. I don’t have concrete numbers to back this up, but anecdotally speaking I spend less time going through these feeds than I do those about nonprofits, technology, payments, and the like.
In addition to a church giving app, part of the solution to the summer slump is being active on your church blog, email, and social media. If your members are on vacation, follow them. Go where they go by maintaining a consistent presence on the mobile devices they use so much.
Get out there on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, whatever networks your members use to connect with your church.
And keep in mind it’s not a one-way street. By reaching them via social networks on their mobile phones, they’re already holding the means to give in their hands. Include a link to your mobile giving profile in your electronic communication, and your members are that much more likely to give on the spot–wherever that spot may be.