Using giving data for ministry

If you were asked when your church gives, how would you answer?

CREATING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY ICON

If you’re still relying on passing the plate to make your church’s budget, you know exactly when they give. They give during the Sunday morning, 10-minute offering window.

Sure, there’s a small minority of highly organized folks who sit down and write out their check(s) and either bring them to church to drop in the plate or mail them to the church. But for the majority of your church, if they’re giving at all, it’s when they’re being prompted by ushers and offering music.

So, what happens when people aren’t really using checks (or the postal service, for that matter) anymore? What if they aren’t in church that week? What if they didn’t bring cash with them to the service? When are those individuals giving?

Looking beyond Sunday giving

Churches are using technology to see beyond the Sunday morning service. Digital giving solutions enable people to give at times and in ways that are more intuitive to their lifestyle. And isn’t that a good thing? Because we want people to be able to give when the moment strikes them, whether it’s during a small-group discussion on generosity or while watching a Netflix documentary on hunger.

Equipping your church with the tools that expand their ability to respond to convictions and prompts to give at the moments they happen is the best thing for them — and for you. When you put the ability to give into their hands through mobile giving, it can make a huge difference.

When do people give?

Take look at this giving diagram (see below) from echurch. It pulls together all the giving that happens during the week using the Pushpay app, and it paints quite an interesting picture. Giving doesn’t just happen inside the Sunday window; it happens throughout the week during business hours, with 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.–3 p.m. seeing the heaviest giving traffic. Stop for a second and really let this sink in:

If you look at the rest of the week combined — most people, if given a choice, won’t give on a Sunday. For whatever reason, it makes more sense for them to give during the week. What if you’re wrong to keep accepting the idea that most giving happens on Sunday morning? What if people are just as willing to give when you’re not reminding them? What if you’re actually hurting your budget by making Sunday the center of your giving?

GENEROSITY CHARTSWhen people are taught and encouraged to be generous and then given the tools to make it happen, you’ll start to see a real change. You’ll see people give when they couldn’t be at church because of vacations, illness or other responsibilities. You’ll see people continuing to give, even though they had to move to different cities. You’ll discover people giving because they’ve discovered your ministry online.

Pastor Steve Murray from Real Life Church in Covington, WA, uses Pushpay as the church’s giving platform. He has this to say about giving: “Sunday morning is no longer the main place that people give. With Pushpay, people can give wherever they’re at; so, we’re seeing people give while they’re on vacation, people giving on a Sunday when they’re not at church, or people simply giving on their phone before the buckets even get around to them. Our young people are starting to give more and from different places, and it’s really exciting to see.”

Percentage of people who give

Few church metrics come with so much baggage as those centered around giving. We simply don’t know how far to delve into the generosity (or lack thereof) of our congregations. Often, this uncertainty is borne of a very honest — and well-intentioned — desire not to prejudice ourselves for or against people based upon how much they give.

But, it’s a mistake not to measure giving. In 21st-century North America, generosity gives us a bird’s-eye view into the human heart like no other church metric. Johnny Hunt, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, GA, explains it like this: “You’re never more like Jesus than when you give.” If Jesus is the spiritual-maturity barometer of a discipled Christian, then generosity has to be a critical part of the equation.

“Giving doesn’t just happen inside the Sunday window; it happens throughout the week during business hours, with 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.–3 p.m. seeing the heaviest giving traffic.”

That’s why you want a giving metric that measures the breadth of giving across your church membership. If your congregation as a whole isn’t giving — or if giving is relegated to a relative few — you can guess you have people who need additional discipleship in the area of generosity.

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“It’s incredibly valuable to know that we have 40 committed families, and we have 30 committed givers. That tells us we probably have 25 percent of our church [that] has not been discipled in that area or doesn’t have the means [to give],” said Bradon Cox, managing editor of Pastors.com and founding pastor of Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas.

Depending upon how your church tracks giving, this shouldn’t be tough to figure, either. Whoever manages your accounting can simply isolate all your members’ giving records and count up the number of people who have given in the past month. Divide that number by your church’s total number of givers.

Here’s where technology can come into play and really help you see the facts and figures. We’re living in a time when technology has evolved at an amazing rate; the latest version of a computer or smartphone is outdated in a matter of months, not years. In the church, however, we are often behind when it comes to technology. Whether it’s fear of change or an overwhelming number of options to choose from, decisions about technology seem to paralyze church leaders into indecision. Yet, technology can be an extremely beneficial element to your ministry — particularly when it comes to generosity.

Did you know that the percentage of people using their smartphones to shop on Amazon cracked the 70-percent mark in December 2015?
Facebook sees similar mobile use. In fact, in April 2016, Facebook reported in its earnings report that 79 percent of its advertising revenue came through mobile ads. There are even articles being published on the importance of mobile giving for churches — such as “3 Reasons Why Your Church Needs to Consider Mobile Giving for Offering & Tithes” — citing some very important metrics. At the end of the day, when it comes to trends like this, the numbers don’t lie.

The point of sharing these metrics is that the world today regularly interacts via smartphone, and that number is only growing as smartphones become more and more integrated into our daily lives. If your church isn’t taking advantage of this trend, you’re not only missing out on connecting more with your community, but you’re also missing out on the valuable metrics that come with it. These metrics can help measure the percentage of members who give, determine how effective and useful your current technology is, and help you make educated decisions about how well your technology serves your ministry.

Unbelievable metrics can be accessed when using a mobile solution like echurch custom mobile apps that are powered by Pushpay’s mobile giving platform. If you’re using this technology, giving metrics — such as the percentage of members who give — are a snap to do. You’ll have this number (and more) at your fingertips. You’ll even be able to zero in on specific segments of your membership’s giving patterns.

Want to know what percentage of your young families are giving? No problem.

Want to know how many of your church’s new members over the past year have become givers? Done.

Want to know the percentage of members in leadership positions who gave last month? It’s easy.

Whatever the situation, access to data is invaluable — and the ability to have eyes on this information can do amazing things for any ministry. Mobile giving is the most advanced tool to accomplish this. Additionally, it has the ability to unlock generosity from your community while giving you tools to plan for the future.


Written by the echurch content teamechurch is the principal supplier of Pushpay.

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