Founded in 2004, Cornerstone Community Church (CCC) is a young church located in the rural mountains of Virginia, meeting in a converted downtown storefront. In a city with a population less than 7,000, finances have been a struggle for the growing church.
Here, Lead Pastor Mike Morris recalls a recent change that has helped CCC not just meet its monthly budget for 2017, but exceed it.
Last summer, our church decided it was time to revamp our online giving. Until that point, we offered a solution that only provided ACH bank account giving as an option — cumbersome, complicated, and only a few families in the church used it.
After an extensive evaluation of different online giving platforms, we chose Tithe.ly as our new provider. We were most impressed by the ease of giving it offered via mobile devices. We also liked that this solution charged no monthly fees. So, it was an easy decision for our administrative team.
We launched the new service in September 2016, with positive results. We now have six months of use to help us identify new trends. These include:
A significant ramp-up in online giving = more consistent generosity. Our church is a little unusual in that the first quarter is typically our lowest quarter, financially. Our giving starts picking back in summer, but our biggest slump is the first three months, with January representing the lowest point.
After launching our new online giving platform, we quickly saw our giving trends change. We now see 34% of all giving occur online, which is a big increase from our previous solution. Another positive benefit is that 41% of our online giving is recurring giving, which makes it much more consistent from week to week.
After the first quarter, the church is ahead of budget by two full weeks — a more than 5 percent improvement compared to the previous year. It’s also the first time the church has ever been ahead of budget during the first quarter!
Increased giving per person. Our attendance has been consistent over the past couple of years, which means giving per person has increased. The average gift size through Tithe.ly is $162, which shows that people are using this tool for their tithes, not just for smaller gifts.
More money for ministry. Based on the current average for 2017, we should exceed our annual budget by $30,000. And, if we take into account the increased giving for the third and fourth quarter, we’re on track to exceed our budget by more than $50,000! For a church our size, that’s a huge blessing.
The increased giving will allow us to do two things. First, we can pay down the mortgage on our facility. This will free up more money for ministry and mission efforts.
Second, this budget surplus will allow us to expand the staff. As a church averaging about 300 people in attendance with two Sunday services, I’m the only full-time staff member, serving as lead pastor. We’ve wanted to expand our staff for several years, but the lack of funds has prevented hiring another part- or full-time staff person.
We’re pleased with the consistent increased giving we’ve seen since implementing a more robust online giving solution. I’d recommend all church leaders think about making mobile giving more accessible to their congregation.
Our only regret is that we didn’t implement it sooner.
Mike Morris is Lead Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Va.