Churches depend almost 100% on their members as well as outside donors to give generously to the church in order to keep it running smoothly.  To find out how generous your congregation is, you really have to start by looking closely at the different levels of donations and try to get a firm understanding of the reasons behind the donations. It’s important to make this assessment because knowing your members and what motivates them to give is your key to increasing your donations.

Do your members give because it’s simply what is expected of them? Do they give out of guilt? Or do they give because they are truly generous and want to give whatever they can for the sake of the church? Those questions will get you started on the road to learning how to encourage your donors to give more.

1. Do your members donate to ministries and missions?

Tracking and measuring this will give you an idea of how much money is donated and distributed to needs outside of the church.  If your members only donate to cover the bare necessities of the church and nothing more, you may have a problem.

2. Do the donations you get match up with your overall attendance?

Set out how much you expect per (adult) head per week, and then calculate the total you should be getting each week based on your average weekly attendance. Based on a giving analysis by Church Building Consultants and Capital Campaign Consultants, you could count on about $20 per head per week (this is a rough average, and is definitely dependent on zip code as well—certain areas will have lower or higher averages). If your attendance grows, yet your donations remain the same, that may mean that your new members don’t quite comprehend the importance of giving.

A report by The Chronicle of Philanthropy actually revealed that middle-class Americans give a much larger portion of their income to churches/charities than the wealthy do.  It states that households earning $50,000-$75,000 give an average of 7.6%, compared with an average of 4.2% for people who make $100,000 or more.

3.  Are you listening to and meeting the needs of your congregation?

Are your members conscientious about giving to the church? Do they have opinions on where the money is going and the way the church is managed? Make sure that you involve your members and listen to their input, ideas, and feedback –the more that you take their thoughts and needs into consideration, the more generous your members will be.  Some tools for assessing the reasons behind your members’ donations are the 8-Point Cultivating Generosity Ladder by GenerousChurch, and the church-wide Generosity Assessment.

Once you’ve asked yourself those questions, you should think about taking these next steps:

1) Teach your members about giving.

Communicate with your members about donating and how the church operates, and how much it needs help.  Some ways to do that are by speaking to your members about how donating to your church can be a way to worship, by beginning stewardship campaigns, making more giving opportunities available to your members, speaking about giving in talks and sermons, and having meetings for your members where you can speak with them about the church and its finances.

Some other great ways are encouraging your members to talk to each other about their tithing practices, and making certain books available to your parishioners that discuss how giving is an important part of their faith.

 2) Make the donation process easy for your members.

When donating becomes a hassle, members are less likely to give, even if they are the most generous people in the world.  Having tools that enable your members to donate online, set up recurring donations, and give via mobile devices are just a few good ways to make donating easy for your members.  Several church management software products have tools to streamline the donation process, including:

  • A giving module by The City that helps you with online giving and donations, fund, and batch management, as well as reporting.
  • BytheBook’s donation software that can help you to enter in your tithes and offerings, run donation reports, and analyze donation patterns.
  • Software4NonProfits also has a donation version of its software for up to 100 donors per year, with just an annual $20 support fee.

3) Illustrate the effects of giving

Essentially, showing your members the true effects of being generous by having fundraisers, hosting events, and showing people what the church gives money to will encourage your members to donate more.  They’ll be willing to put more money towards something that they can witness firsthand is worthwhile.

If you need some help planning and managing fundraising events, these might do the trick!

  • DOJIGGY is inexpensive software geared towards non-profits to help them plan and put on fundraisers.
  • Blackbaud also offers some tools to aid you in putting on these events.