You have likely heard a lot of ominous-sounding facts about the state of church giving. If you’re a leader at a ministry that has seen a decline in giving recently, it’d be easy to read the latest article on this topic and resign yourself to thinking, “This is just the way it is; there’s nothing I can do about it.”
The truth is, while there are some disturbing truths about tithing out there, none of them are impossible to overcome. Let’s look at three of these unpleasant church giving facts and what they mean for your place of worship.
Charitable Donations Are Up, but Churches Are Getting Less of the Pie
The state of charitable donations overall is actually improving. The Great Recession notwithstanding, charitable giving has been steadily on the rise in the USA. The problem, notes Sam Rainer, is that out of the whole category of charitable giving, religious organizations are now capturing just 32%. In 1987 that figure was 53%. While Americans are giving more, less of those gifts are to religious organizations.
Rainer goes on to suggest that “independent funding mechanisms” are part of the reason for this. He says, “I can more easily support my friend serving in Rwanda than I can my denomination, and I have more of a personal connection to her anyway. I like her Facebook page, not my denomination’s Facebook page (actually, my denomination doesn’t even have one!). I get personal emails from her, not leaders in my denomination.”
Debt Is Causing Problems for Would-Be Givers
When non-tithing Christians were asked in 2016 research what keeps them from giving, 38% reported that they couldn’t afford to give, and 33% said they had too much debt to give. It’s widely known that Americans have a consumer debt problem, and it’s affecting church giving. Churchgoers trying to keep up with rent, car payments, student loans, and credit card debt (not to mention medical bills or other surprise expenses) can’t seem to find room in their budget for church giving.
If debt is strangling some in your congregation, consider offering a money management course through your church. Bill it as more than just a personal decision, but a matter of stewardship.
The Disconnect Between Reported and Actual Church Giving
Not-so-fun fact: 17% of American churchgoers report that they tithe, but in reality only 3-5% of givers actually tithe regularly. One possible reason for this discrepancy is that people are giving “manually,” meaning only when they remember to do so and when they are present in the worship service.
Another possible explanation is that church members aren’t receiving clear giving feedback/reports. They remember giving, but they don’t actually know when they gave or how much.
What’s the Solution?
Think back to Sam Rainer’s comment about his friend serving in Rwanda. How is it easier for him to give to her than to his denomination? Through a modern digital platform, of course. The giving methods his denomination offers are not as user-friendly, and therefore he struggles to keep up with giving.
Mobile giving makes the giving process streamlined and convenient, and has tools to help meet the needs of every type of giver. Indebted givers can set up recurring “payments” that fit into their debt strategy. Those who struggle to keep track of how often or how much they give can easily track all of their giving in one place.
If you want to see your ministry’s giving grow (and hear fewer excuses from your members), mobile giving can turn the tide.