Ever wondered if your church is unique in its generosity, or if your people are similar to others? Leadership Network and Mortar Stone have released a report on church generosity based on some “big data” from Mortar Stone. They tracked giving at churches from over 722,000 households and found some interesting insights that should shape every church’s strategy to grow a generous church.
Hare are some compelling take-aways from the report.
You can’t grow significantly on new givers – The report found that over 12 months, only 6% of trackable giving comes from new givers. While important, new givers don’t significantly impact in year one. Expecting “growth” to cover large budget increases is not the best approach. Every church needs a plan to grow the generosity of those already giving.
Focus on the second gift – Only 55% of new givers will give a second time within a 12 month period. So if you get 100 new givers, 45 won’t give again that year. So focus on strategies to help new givers give again, quickly, to build a habit of generosity. Thank you letters and making that second gift simple (online giving, mobile giving, envelopes, etc) can help increase that percentage.
Early Attrition is High – On top of the difficulty of making second gifts, only 48% of new givers will keep giving into year two. That means for every 100 new gifts, typically 26 will keep giving into year two. Like any new skill, it’s surprisingly difficult to sustain initial giving patterns. Growing nonprofits need tactics to support new givers, like highlighting the benefits of generosity and helping people learn new financial patterns.
Build consistency not amount – For givers who did continue giving, in year two their giving goes up by an average of 64%. So help new givers build a consistent pattern of giving, and their generosity normally increases.
But people don’t give consistently because of real barriers. Consumer debt, consumerism, lack of trust and fear inhibit families generosity. Many have never learned how to give. So teach them. Provide classes to help people get out of debt, budget, and save so generosity becomes practical and practiced.
Disciple top givers – Being generous should be part of every church’s discipleship plan for everyone. At the same time, 6% of givers donated over $10K a year to churches. Yet those people give 41% of the church’s general fund. That means losing them is painful. So deepen their connection to Christ and their understanding of your churches mission to motivate them towards building God’s kingdom.
Pass the Plate – Churches that actually passed a plate/basket/bucket have 17% larger offerings than similar size churches that don’t pass the plate. It may be a strategic decision to passively receive an offering, but it has a price.
When they are gone, they are gone. Once a family has not given for 12 months, only 3% will give over the next 12 months. To put it another way, if a family hasn’t given in 12 months, 97% of the time they don’t return to giving to your church. The key is to not lose them. If a shift in giving pattern happens, someone should follow-up. Often these are pastoral care moments (loss of job, medical challenge, debt crunch, frustration, etc) where care and help can make a huge impact spiritually and personally.
How does your church or nonprofit compare to these percentages? Have you compared your data from year to year to see how well you are doing at developing and retaining those who fund your mission?
If your church or non-profit needs help developing systems to care for those who give and help you know what their next step is, we can help. Schedule a free 30 consultation to discuss your church’s situation.