Church giving has been in decline. Most churches promote the Biblical directive to give. However, members in U.S. churches average 2.4 percent of income. In addition, approximately 33-50 percent of congregants give nothing at all.
Why? The reasons may sound surprising:
- Members attend less frequently. If church members are not attending services, the giving declines.
- A mere 42 percent of churches in 2015 had adopted online giving. This is in contrast to 70 percent for other non-profits. Only 20 percent of smaller churches offered online giving.
As 2018 comes to a close, here are five key trends in online donations and church giving apps. You can take advantage of them in 2019.
A church will have a congregation that spans a wide array of financial means. You may have millionaires worshiping next to families of more modest incomes. Your church giving app should enable you to personalize stewardship campaigns. The millionaire receives a message tailored towards larger donations or bequeathing an estate. A low-income family receives a message that fits their budget while making them feel welcome.
A church giving app can collect information on the donor. The app will make recommendations based on their preferences. Amazon uses this technology. Churches can use it too. Your congregation is already familiar with recommendations generated through software. This should make you feel more comfortable with giving software. Your church will avoid the embarrassment of asking an elderly widow on Social Security for a large gift.
Your church donation management will become more agile and sophisticated. Your message will be delivered confidently. Members will feel more comfortable knowing that your church has a clear message. And, you have a unique impact in the community.
2. Facebook Donation Features May Disrupt Church Giving
Facebook has changed many of its commerce features, and this includes features for charitable giving. Recently, Facebook eliminated charitable fundraising fees. This means that a non-profit receives 100 percent of donations made through the social media platform.
This development could disrupt the industry for platforms such as GlobalGiving and GoFundMe that charge fees. Facebook is also considering a matching fund program for disaster relief efforts. This could impact organizations such as Volunteer Match. With its own huge database on donor data and sophisticated artificial intelligence software, Facebook could disrupt even the online donations market for churches.
Still, even with the tools that Facebook offers non-profits and its AI software, churches will likely prefer a church giving app for the personalization features. Facebook can make messages look personal, yet the sheer size of the corporation hinders truly tailored messaging. Your church may want closer control over that aspect of the church donation management.
In addition, your church would need to meet specific criteria, complete a charity verification process, and receive certification from Facebook to be categorized as a non-profit. Using a sophisticated church giving app circumvents that tedious process.
Churches use stewardship campaigns and pledges in order to plan their budgets. Without those pledges, each week's giving would be an unknown commodity.
This very nature of church giving means that pastors and leadership tend to focus on controlling overhead, especially administrative spending. Staff makes every effort to ensure that each penny is well spent.
In this era of mobile devices, your organization can pivot away from concentrating on overhead. You can now focus on your church mission, vision, and outcome objectives. Frequently, a church finance team gets distracted by the cost of activities. This narrow focus can prevent the church from spreading its message within the community at large. By reorienting towards outcomes, investing in church donation management platforms makes more sense.
What happens when giving declines? The causes could be a lack of vision and message. The result is a decline in church growth and impact in your local community. During times of declining giving, will your church be reactionary and protective or strategic and intentional?
Churches have a tendency to cut budgets rather than concentrate on growth in giving. This reactionary leadership analyzes the ministry on costs, which can ultimately paralyze that ministry. Some typical reactions to decreases in giving:
- Eliminate promotions. These effectively keep the ministry front and center with the congregation. However, if you end the messaging, people will stop coming. It won't be from a lack of interest. Rather, it will be from a lack of knowledge about your church.
- Cut staffing. This reaction puts intense pressure on the staff that remains, especially the pastor. If your church cuts too many staff, the ministry suffers and can ultimately fail. Your options become finding and training volunteers. This again misdirects resources into recruiting and training. You should be spending your efforts at increasing giving and engaging members and the community with your mission and vision.
With a church giving app, you can avoid the pain of cutting back promotions and staffing.
It is a difficult task to treat each member of your church with equal time and resources. You want to tailor the time and resources to each individual or family. By adopting giving and marketing automation software, your church creates personalized appeals. This puts givers and potential donors onto individualized paths, which drives meaningful engagement with the vision or even a specific ministry.
5. Using Church Giving App to Nurture Recurring Giving
As noted above, churches typically rely heavily upon pledges to plan their budget for the coming year. Turning weekly giving and pledges into electronic recurring giving has significant benefits such as predictable funds and the ability to plan church operations accurately.
Developing an active recurring donor base takes a commitment to technology combined with an engagement strategy that nurtures donors by keeping them connected to the church on a regular basis.
Churches in today's digital-driven world must embrace innovative technology to meet the needs of their members. While some pastors and church leaders shy away from talking about stewardship, church donation management is a reality. In addition, the younger generations expect to use mobile technology throughout every aspect of their lives.
Online donations used to mean giving through the church website. Now it means that online donations come through a church giving app. Indeed, churches must face the truth that donor expectations have changed. Now the best online giving for your church occurs through mobile apps.