The way people donate money continues to change.
These changes are not only taking place on a national level—they’re occurring in your community.
Social media usage, one-click shopping, and technology adoption play an essential part in transforming the way people give and how they think about giving.
As a church leader, how you adapt to these changes will influence the financial livelihood of your church for better or worse. Being able to see changes in charitable giving ahead of time will help you adapt to the way your church prefers to tithe and donate money.
Here are seven trends in charitable giving your church can expect in 2019.
#1. Focus on results
Your church cannot simply expect people to give out of a sense of obligation.
There’s an increasing desire among donors to know that their financial contributions are doing more than keeping the lights on—they want to know that their money is making a difference.
In other words, there’s a shift away from donating to organizations, and a shift toward donating to causes. It’s what the New York Times dubbed “The Millennial Way of Charity."
Practically speaking, as you share Bible verses about money and generosity with your church, you also have to show church members how their donations support the work of God in your church. This is a subtle shift away from giving out of obligation to giving out of desire to participate in the work of God.
Said another way, share specific ways God has worked through your church.
- How many new people joined your church?
- Did you baptize people last year?
- Did attendance increase in your small groups or Sunday school?
- Did your church support local or foreign missions?
When sharing these highlights, you can …
- Include them in your giving statements
- Mention them during your church announcements
- Share them on social media
- Send them in an email
- Add them to your church’s bulletin
Don’t be afraid to continually remind your church about the ways God is making a difference. Your church members will be glad to know that they are participating in God’s work of transforming lives.
#2. Tax reform
There’s still uncertainty about how the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will influence the amount of charitable donations.
According to a study conducted by Dunham+Company, a 60–70 percent decrease in the number of people who itemize deductions. This sweeping change in the tax law will not necessarily influence someone’s intent to give. But it may affect how much someone donates—especially church members in a middle-income bracket.
After taxes are filed in April 2019, keep an eye on whether giving to your church decreases or remains on an established trajectory.
#3. Rise in peer-to-peer fundraising
On Facebook, you’ve probably received more than one notification encouraging you to donate toward a cause for one of your friends’ birthdays.
As popularity for this feature continues to climb, expect more people to donate money through Facebook.
The rise in Facebook’s Charitable Giving Tools may not directly affect your church.
But it does highlight a few interesting trends:
- Rise in peer-to-peer fundraising
- Increase in the personalization of giving
- Popularity of cause-based giving
- Improved ease of technology
We’ll take a look at a few of these points in detail below.
But take the time to think about how Facebook has tapped into the desires of people to give, makes it really easy for them to take ownership of raising money (peer-to-peer), makes it personal, makes it easy with technology, and empowers their users to raise money for causes they believe in. Implementing these four trends will make a world of difference in increasing giving and engagement with your church.
#4. The Amazon affect
You know what’s easy?
Amazon’s one-click ordering.
You’re probably thinking:
What does this have to do with charitable giving?
During our interview with Rick Dunham, the Chief Executive Officer of Dunham+Company, he shared how Amazon’s one-click ordering is shaping donors’ expectations. As consumers grow accustomed to purchasing online with a click of a button, they will expect to have a similar experience donating money.
Here’s the deal:
If your church doesn't make it easy for people to donate online or with their mobile device, then many people may not donate at all. A difficult giving experience is one surefire way to confuse, frustrate, and discourage people from donating online.
Need help creating an amazing giving experience?
Make sure to use the best church giving tools and optimize your church’s online giving page to boost giving.
#5. Personalizing giving experiences
It pays to provide a personalized giving experience.
Based on one study, half (50%) of donors prefer to receive a personalized thank you versus a fast, general response. Remember, as I pointed out above, the personalization of giving will continue to be important as time moves on.
Your church members don’t give in expectation of the praise they’ll receive. But it doesn’t hurt to express your appreciation to them. Besides, without the financial support of your church—your church wouldn’t exist.
Now, we understand it’s nearly impossible to say thanks every time someone donates money. But technology makes it easy to automate a personalized response of appreciation.
In Unleashing Generosity, we shared several ways you can express thanks online:
- Include a “thank you” confirmation page
- Send an automated “thank you” email
- Send a “thank you” text to people who give by text
In these personalized responses, be sure to lead with the donor’s name (first or last).
Creating a highly-personalized digital giving experience will boost goodwill and increase giving.
#6. Influence of subscription services
The popularity of recurring giving will continue into 2019, which makes perfect sense.
As consumers, we're used to making small, monthly payments for a variety of subscription services, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Adobe. What’s more, according to one study from 2010, 41 percent of all monthly bills are paid automatically every month.
What’s the moral of the story?
Many people in the United States prefer to process financial transactions in small, automatic installments.
By providing recurring giving, and making it easy, your church can get ahead of this trend by providing your church members with a way to donate money that they’ll prefer.
#7. Go mobile or go home
The use of mobile phones for nearly everything will continue.
Not only do the vast majority of Americans (95%) own a cell phone. But 77 percent of people in the United States own a smartphone.
What’s more, the use of mobile phones to access the Internet continues to climb. As of 2017, more than half (51%) of global Internet traffic originated from a mobile device.
Not only are people visiting your church’s website from their mobile phone, but they’re also inclined to make a donation with their cell phone.
Mobile giving continues to increase year-over-year, and, according to The Millennial Impact Report, 84% of millennials want to give online.
With more people in the United States owning smartphones, and as the trend of online shopping, banking, and giving continues to climb, it won’t be long until the vast majority of your church members will prefer donating with their mobile device.
In the end, mobile-friendly is no longer trendy—it’s a must.
Over to you
It’s impossible to know exactly what will happen next year.
Significant changes in the economy, the introduction of political policy, or advancements in technology and services may influence charitable giving in 2019.
However, as we observe the giving patterns of the churches we serve, talk with experts, and review national trends in the United States, we’re confident your church can prepare to take advantage of the above charitable giving trends in the new year.