How Giving Changed in 2017: 4 Trends Your Church Needs to Know


How Giving Changed in 2017: 4 Trends Your Church Needs to Know

The life of your church is affected by many trends in your community and around the world. 

From employment rates in your community to trends in the way people in your church shop and give, your church needs to be able to adapt to these changes. 

So, how can your church be flexible in our rapidly changing times?

As a church leader, it’s vital for you to have your finger on the pulse of the life of your church as well as broader trends taking place. At, we understand you may not (nor want to) have the time to keep up with economic trends. You have received a call from God to do the work of the ministry, and we want to help you fulfill your calling.

To help you stay up-to-date with the latest church giving trends in giving that will influence you and your church, we want to share with you four trends you can’t afford to ignore from the 2017 Charitable Giving Report by Blackbaud Institute. Regardless of the size, age, or location of your church, you will find something practical and relevant for you and your ministry.

#1. Total giving increased in 2017. But...

In 2017, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 4.1% on a year-over-year, which marks the sixth consecutive year that Blackbaud has observed an increase in giving. Knowing that more people in the United States have been compelled to support many nonprofit organizations is a cause for celebration.

Even though giving to nonprofit organizations increased overall in 2017, giving to religious organizations is not keeping pace with overall giving. Yes, donations made to religious organizations do account for 32% of total giving. But the amount given to religious organizations is down from a high of 57% of total giving from 1980-89.

If your church has experienced a decline in overall giving, don’t close your doors just yet. There are practical things you can do to build a generous church culture.

Here are some helpful articles you can read to help you think through your situation:

#2. Total fundraising from online giving continues to climb

According to the 2017 Charitable Giving Report, “7.6% of overall fundraising revenue…was raised online.” The amount of overall giving online continues to  climb steadily. But, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online giving  lags slightly behind the amount of e-commerce sales.

Below, we highlight a few reasons why we believe more people will continue to shop and give online. What is more, as more churches and nonprofit organizations provide online and mobile giving options for their members and donors, the amount of overall fundraising online will continue to climb and eventually be similar to e-commerce sales.

As you lead the members of your church to steward their resources, it’s essential for your church to provide ways for them to give that is similar to the way they  bank, shop, and interact with other people, brands, and nonprofit organizations online. In other words, your church should consider providing your members with the opportunity to give via their phone or online if you’re not already.

Now, one thing that’s important to highlight from this report is that faith-based nonprofits experienced a significant increase in online giving, which leads us to our next point.

#3. Faith-based nonprofits experienced tremendous online giving growth

According to the 2017 Charitable Giving Report, online giving grew 18.1% among faith-based nonprofits, which is a significant increase. But there’s a good chance your church did not observe such an increase in online giving. We know this for two important reasons:

  1. Over 85% of church giving still happens via check
  2. Only 42% of churches offer online giving

As a church, it’s essential to start offering your members and visitors the opportunity to give online. We are in the midst of a radical transformation in the way we make payments or give money. Today, more and more people in the United States are using their debit or credit cards, apps on their smartphones, and fewer checks and cash. Moving forward, the number of people who carry cash or use checks for anything will continue to decrease dramatically.

In general, the people in your church shop and give online and oftentimes, they use their smartphones to do this (more on this later).

In the meantime, your church will experience an increase in giving when you provide your members with an opportunity to give online.

#4. Mobile giving = Donor friendly

Mobile giving continues to climb fast.

In 2017, donations made on mobile devices totaled more than 21% of online giving, which is up from 17% in 2016. At, we expect to see the amount of giving done with mobile devices to continue to increase rapidly.

In your church, most people probably own a smartphone. As of 2015, two-thirds of Americans owned one. For most people, their smartphone doesn’t sit idly in their pocket. According to a study conducted by Asurion, the average American checks their phone 80 times a day. From checking the news, scrolling their social media feeds, to shopping and banking, the people in your church are using their phone for many daily activities—including giving.

How should your church respond?

The increased ownership and usage of smartphones means that your church must offer a mobile giving solution for your members. “Mobile-friendly is linked to being donor-friendly,” according to the team at Blackbaud.

To help the members of your church to best steward their resources, then you’ll need to meet them where they’re at by giving them the ability to use a mobile app to give.

Is your church prepared for the trends in giving? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Expert Tips on How to Effectively Launch a New Online Giving Tool

Make it accessible so people can give in the way that is most comfortable to them. Don't make it hard for people to give money.
Some people like to give online, some like mobile, some like text. Whatever they like, let them give in that way if you can.
Brady Shearer
Talk about it every single week. Consistently promote it on every platform. 
Be patient. We all resist change.
Michael Lukaszewski
Launch it to your staff, your leaders, and your volunteers (in that order) and help those groups use it before you launch it publicly.
Teach it in your new member class.
Allow for people to sign-up right on the spot via their mobile phone (or through a laptop or iPad for those that don't have a mobile device handy).
Justin Dean
On launch weekend, have volunteers and staff accessible with iPads to walk people through how to set up an account and get recurring giving configured.
Daniel Irmler
On a regular basis, tell stories from members who are using and loving it. 
You don't don’t need a big production value shoot. Keep it simple by using an iPhone (horizontal) and a decent mic.
Invite your congregation to take out their phones and download the mobile giving app right in the service.
Nik Goodner
Explain the why behind the change and highlight the benefits of the new system. 
People like to be "on the team".
Kevin Ekmark
I always tell people, "you need to clean your house before you invite friends over". It's crucial that your giving platform is easily found, whether it's on the web or in the church. 
On the web, making sure that your website is mobile friendly (Google and Bing both recommend mobile responsive design) can be a huge help. You can also incorporate bots from Facebook or a service like Intercom to help walk people through online giving on your website. When necessary, a human can jump in and help too. This helps complete the process from being found online to completing the online giving.
Logan Fields
Tell them the real reasons. Giving members are concerned with what's best for the church and not just what they individually prefer. Transparency.
"This platform will allow us to better manage finances and spend less staff time on the books and more on people." etc. The temptation is to treat members like consumers who we need to impress instead of team members. Treat them like equals who you assume are interested in what's best for the church/ mission and people will likely rise to it.
Kenny Jahng
Launch a $3.16 campaign. Ask people to all give just $3.16 to a weekly or bi-weekly blessing fund. Then, pick one person or cause to bless IN TOWN and go give that person all the money collected.
  • It could be the all volunteer firefighter squad in town. "We'll take all the $3.16's collected and go buy a meal or treat and drop off for the firefighters who volunteer."
  • It could be a widow the church knows about - bless her with something new for her home or hobby or pets.
  • Single mothers - supply them with a night out. Or pay for a house cleaner or a handyman for a couple of hours.
  • Special needs families - pay for evening out for the parents and child care for the special needs kids so the parents get a break.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
This works incredibly well because you are teaching generosity / outward posture to your people on a consistent basis and getting people to give on mobile- while making it about PARTICIPATION vs AMOUNT. You'll have people regularly trying out the mobile option as well as pre-register them in the system.

There you have it! Some amazing tips, right?

Which tip stood out the most to you … or looked to be the craziest?! Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! powers mobile, text, and web giving for
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How Giving Changed in 2017: 4 Trends Your Church Needs to Know powers mobile, text, and web giving for
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