Have you seen a decline in giving at your church over the last few years? If so, you are not alone. Recent studies show that tithers only represent 10-25% of congregations. If you serve multiple generations in your church, these numbers may be even lower. What might be causing this decline, and how can we shepherd well despite it?
The dilemma of declining giving is not just an operational issue for churches. It is an issue of the heart. Generosity is a natural reaction to the transforming power of God’s grace in the heart of a believer. Scripture contains examples of God’s people bringing their most significant, most costly gifts to the Lord. King David gave an extravagant gift, and thousands followed suit (1 Chronicles 29). Men from the East traveled many miles to bring the infant Jesus precious gifts as an act of worship (Matthew 2:11). Churches in Macedonia gave beyond their means, despite living in poverty (2 Corinthians 8). A woman used a very expensive ointment to bless Jesus rather than sell it (Matthew 26:7). Some believers may not have connected the act of giving to the grace they receive in Jesus. We don’t owe God anything for grace, but grace compels us to give back.
Are your members in a difficult financial situation? Debt can be a generosity killer. An Experian study indicates that fewer than 25% of American households are debt-free. The average American has more than $5,000 in credit card debt and more than $100,000 in total debt. These financial burdens can weigh heavy on hearts and distract the priorities of believers. When believers place their joy in financial security, they will find giving difficult during hard financial times. Believers who have placed their joy in the grace of Jesus will give what they can despite the circumstance (2 Corinthians 8). Believers struggling with financial issues may benefit from classes or small groups offered at church that are focused on helping people get out of debt.
The Bible speaks about how much God loves a cheerful giver, most prominently in 2 Corinthians 9:7. Many times. Members will withhold their gifts for various personal reasons that often boil down to trust issues. Perhaps they don’t trust the leadership, or they don’t trust the management of the funds, or they don’t understand the impact that their gifts (or the overall funds) make in God’s Kingdom work. Transparency is key in addressing this lack of trust. Do your members understand what the distribution of funds looks like? Do you share compelling stories of how donations are used to support the mission? If not, these minor changes could help improve transparency and establish trust.
Congregants may not be giving steadily for a multitude of reasons. Whether hearts change, trust, or financial barriers are in the way, focusing on giving as an act of worship and a response to grace while maintaining transparency could be the key.
Using Technology in Support of Generosity:
Engage Members in Mission:
Moving ministry forward can feel daunting without the proper tools to help. ACST has tools and resources that equip and mobilize ministry. Realm is one of the many tools to help your ministry make a Kingdom difference. With features like groups, events, communication, and stewardship, Realm equips churches to accomplish their mission.
Groups are the heart of community. They are the building blocks of a healthy, thriving church. Realm empowers churches to create flexible group structures so congregants can engage with each other. This flexible group structure supports organization within the church and across ministries. Realm groups also enable communication at different levels. For example, it becomes easy for the church staff to communicate with teams and committees with leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Staff could email all children’s leaders with details for upcoming VBS events. Also, congregants can build relationships and community within groups through messages, email, and text features. Groups provide a community that supports the ministry and enables connection with the congregation.
Once a church begins to build relationships with the congregation, one of the most effective ways to move ministry forward in Realm is through Events. Events create meaningful connections and propel the church forward into new territory. Participation begins with events. This is where the church moves from the foundational building blocks of groups and relationships to involvement. Events provide a sense of belonging and allow people in the church to connect with the community and vice versa. For example, when executing events, the church creates a plan. They consider the audience they want to reach, recruit volunteers, create the event, understand who is participating, and follow up appropriately. With Realm events, staff and volunteers find it easy to create an event, communicate the details, invite the community, and assign volunteers. Soon the church has a clear pipeline within Realm for evangelism through communication, follow-up, and reporting. Events in Realm are a catalyst for helping the church build ongoing relationships internally and externally.
After congregants connect with the church through events, they seek to engage more closely with it. To support this, Realm enables ministry on the go. Sometimes people need the flexibility of ministry at their fingertips. Realm Connect is just one of the many ways churches can empower their leaders and congregants to connect, participate and grow in their discipleship journey. It empowers congregants to engage with each other via an app. Congregants can create community by communicating with their small groups and each other. They’re also empowered to update their household information, interact with volunteers on their serving teams, and check their children into childcare.
Create Awareness for Faithful Giving:
A key indicator of a member’s spiritual maturity is faithful giving. Not unlike participants at the beginning of their relationship with a church, faithful members seek ways to express their commitment. Realm gives them a tool through which to give faithfully and support the ministries of the church.
Congregants may not be giving steadily for a multitude of reasons. Whether heart change or financial barriers are in the way, focusing on giving as an act of worship and a response to grace while maintaining transparency could be the key. Realm provides tools to help churches overcome these barriers to faithful giving.
Churches can begin by raising awareness about how giving is used. Pledge statements allow the church to send a communication out to the congregation that shows where the congregation as a whole is on fulfilling the pledge and where the individual stands with their pledge. Additionally, a letter can accompany the pledge statement. We enable the staff to fully customize the body of the text so they can communicate how the church uses the resources their congregation entrusts them with.
It is also important to ask for financial commitments from the congregation. Pledge forms are Realm’s mechanism for managing these commitments. Assuming the congregant sets up a pledge, there are a few mechanisms in place to both ask them to give and ensure they are regularly giving:
- When you set up a pledge, it will prompt you to provide an online gift
- As you give online, you’re online giving receipt can tell you where you are in fulfilling your pledge
Make it easy for Members to Give
Churches can also make it easier for their members to give by enabling online giving. Giving Forms in Realm makes it easy to create a form that matches the look and feel of the church’s website without writing code or leveraging a website builder. These forms enable anyone to contribute to their church online. Congregants can easily set up one-time time or recurring gifts. Churches can also use text giving to encourage donations during special services such as Missions Sunday, etc. Active participants can easily engage in online giving alongside their other participation in the church via the Realm Connect App. Individuals wanting to support a church ministry can set up an online donation through the integrated giving widget within a Refresh Website.
It is important to thank donors for their faithful giving. Realm offers customizable giving and pledge confirmation emails (receipts) that staff can use to thank donors. Staff can customize the on-screen thank you messages for giving and pledge forms. Churches frequently generate a letter and the annual giving statement to encourage and thank donors for their generosity throughout the previous year.
Show the impact and results:
Finally, churches can reflect on their progress with proper reporting. Realm meets congregants exactly where they are by providing giving statements in three different methods:
- Printed PDF of the congregant’s statement
- Email that contains a link to the congregant’s statement
- Button on the congregant’s profile in Realm that allows them to download the statement anytime
Staff can gain insight into congregational giving trends through the giving dashboard and pre-defined reports:
- The dashboard provides giving broken down by age as well as giving year over year
- Pre-defined reports show how individuals do year over year both in giving and in meeting their pledge
Connect the financial gifts to the ministry of your church. Provide a report on ministry outcomes funded by your members’ generosity so they can connect money to the mission and foster a change of heart.
There are many ways that ACST can assist in the daunting task of moving ministry forward. The tools found in Realm are just one of those ways. Using those tools, churches can create a sense of community with groups, engage with that community while on a mission through events, strengthen bonds with communication, and ensure the effectiveness of their work with stewardship management. ACST is here to support the church while the church forwards God’s mission.
Want to Increase Your Parishes Offertory?
ACST is collaborating with Greater Mission, LLC to offer Amen Generosity, an innovative consulting service designed to help you increase regular giving levels. With Amen Generosity, you get the fundraising expertise, data insights, and proven campaign methods you need to inspire regular, faithful giving and build ministry life.
Here are just a few things you can expect with Amen Generosity:
- In-person training
- Coaching via your dedicated team of development experts
- Sample giving materials
- Robust reporting and analysis
- Ongoing implementation support
And ultimately, Giving Like Jesus!
For over 43 years, ACS Technologies has been helping churches address and overcome the obstacles they face as they strive to Build the Kingdom. Staff administration was first. Then broader community engagement. Today we’re helping with the urgent issue of cultural intelligence. People have left the church, there is a decline in generosity, and generational attitudes toward the church differ immensely.
Our expertise through understanding the data and in-depth research is revealing and empowering to churches of all sizes who want to validate their efforts today to secure their promise of tomorrow. We walk alongside you.