Leadership

Are Your Church Members NOT Giving? Here Are 10 Reasons Why

Most people don’t tithe. Here's why

Are Your Church Members NOT Giving? Here Are 10 Reasons Why
by

Jesse Wisnewski

Most people don’t give to the church.

This isn’t a judgment—just an observation.

A five-year study that culminated in 2013 revealed that only 10–25 percent of people in the church give to the church.

If tithing is a part of discipleship, that means only 10-25% of people in church are participating in this crucial aspect of discipleship.

This means if they're missing out on giving to the church, then they're missing out on opportunities to grow and mature in Christ.

As a pastor, this should concern you.

Thankfully, there’s as solution.

Offering mobile giving and online giving will improve this metric. But building a generous, giving, and sacrificial church goes well beyond the tools you use.

As a church leader, it’s important to know why this is the case.

Stewardship is arguably one of the most essential aspects of the Christian life. In Bible verses about money, Jesus spoke more often about money than he did prayer and faith combined.

Helping the people in your church steward their resources is an important part of your call in their life.

Below are eight common reasons why people don’t give.

As you minister to the people in your church, prayerfully think through these different reasons with them. Taking this approach will place you in a better position to help shepherd them as their pastor or brother or sister in Christ.

#1: They don’t believe

In general, Christians give because they have been given a new life in Christ.

In time, we will respond to Jesus’ generosity by being generous.

If people in your church, both old and new, don't give, then the first hurdle they need to cross is within their heart.

Question: Do they believe in Jesus?

#2: They don’t know why

Christians receive a new life in Christ.

For the sake of pointing out the obvious, this means Christians will not know how to live for Jesus at the beginning. It takes an eternity to learn how to live and love like Jesus (Matt. 28:18–20).

As a church leader, don’t assume everyone in your church understands what the Bible says about stewardship. They may have never learned or been taught how to steward their resources for God’s glory and their good.

Question: Do they know why they should give?

#3: They’re in transition

As Christians, we’re constantly growing in our faith.

As we grow in Christ, our growth trajectory is not a neat, clean, or continual straight-line. Like all of life, we need directions, take the occasional U-turn, and hit a few potholes along the way.

Are your church members new to faith?

Are they making changes in their lifestyle and finances to better reflect the values of the Kingdom of God?

As a church leader, graciously walk alongside of your people during these times as God graciously works in their life. It will take time, hard conversations, and big decisions for people to make the changes they need to.

Question: Are the people in your church in transition?

#4: They’re in a difficult financial season

Let’s face it.

Life can be difficult.

Many of us — if not most — will go through seasons of financial highs and lows.

During these times, remind people to focus on stewarding what they have—not what they don’t have (2 Cor. 8:12). This will help people fight fear, overcome anxiety, and battle discontentment in their financial situation.

Question: Are they in a difficult financial season?

#5: They don’t know how

Most people within your church will know how to give. But people new to your church may not know.

Be sure to regularly show people how they can give. Whether it’s in the offering plate, online, or through a mobile app, share with people the options they have available to give.

Question: Do people know how they can give?

#6: They don’t know where their money goes

How does your church budget the money you receive?

Do you provide an annual report?

Are your finances available for anyone to see?

Do you share compelling stories about how donations are used?

Inviting people to look into your church’s finances will encourage (or discourage) them to see how their gifts are being used. It’s okay if people ask questions or express concerns on how your church finances are managed. This is just one way your church can hold itself accountable.

Fight the temptation to keep the church’s finances in the dark. Walk in the light and invite the members of your church to look into your financial records.

Question: Do people know how the money they give is stewarded?

#7: They don’t see why

Administrative costs are essential for running a local church.

There’s no way around it.

But giving toward the day-to-day needs is not a compelling reason to give.

God is at work in your church.

People are coming to faith. Marriages are being restored. People are sharing the gospel in their community and around the world. You’re hosting children during the summer vacation Bible school.

Share with your church how God is at work. Let them see the lives redeemed and changed. Invite them to be a part of what God is doing. They need to know that their gifts are what makes the ministry of your local church possible.

Question: Are you sharing stories of God’s work in your church?

#8. They have too much debt

Too much debt is crushing.

In Bible verses about debt, we see that too much debt will:

  • Crush someone’s ability to give
  • Cripple people from providing for them family
  • Create tremendous stress and anxiety

To unleash generosity in your church, consider providing a financial class like Financial Peace University to help your church members manage their money, get out of debt, and create long-term wealth for their family.

Question: Does your church provide financial classes?

#9. They’re not involved

There’s so much more to church volunteers than the work they do.

According to different studies, volunteers are more likely to give than non-volunteers.

From a biblical perspective, this makes sense. When you give your life to Jesus, you will be compelled to be generous with your money, time, and skills.

After you get a church volunteer management system in place, lead your church members to volunteer. Not only will this provide you with helping hands. Most importantly of all, this will help your church members to live out their faith in Jesus.

Question: Do you regularly encourage your church members to volunteer?

#10. They don’t trust your church’s leadership

Trust is a huge factor in motivating people to give.

Here’s the deal:

If someone doesn’t trust you or your church (for whatever reason), they will not financially support your church.

One of the best ways to remedy this situation is to follow through with tip #6 above. You’ll be surprised about how powerful this simple act can be when it comes to creating trust and inspiring generosity.

Over to you

People usually don’t give because they’re a bunch of Scrooges.

Normally, one of the reasons listed above is the cause of your church members not giving.

As a church leader, focus on loving the people you serve well, preach about tithing in the Bible, and make room for God to work in the life of your church.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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Are Your Church Members NOT Giving? Here Are 10 Reasons Why