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Measure Engagement Like Never Before with Tithe.ly's Church App Analytics 2.0

Check out Tithe.ly's all-new church app analytics interface! Understand your church's engagement like never before.

Measure Engagement Like Never Before with Tithe.ly's Church App Analytics 2.0
by

John Holtkamp

On 10/21/19, Tithe.ly launched version 2.0 of our app analytics, giving churches the ability to measure and optimize engagement in a church app unlike ever before on any church app platform. Below is an overview of how these metrics can be used.

Measuring growth is nothing new in the church space. While the metric used for progress may be different from church to church (and from year to year), there is no denying that measurement is important for making sure you’re going in the right direction, and for figuring out how to better optimize what you do. 

At Tithe.ly, we have always offered the ability to view basic metrics within your church app, but we’ve wanted to offer more. Most church apps  offer basic details like sessions and user counts, but we know that churches can use much more information. This is because every church has its own culture, and because of that, every church will use their app differently.

Over the last year, our development team has been cooking up a brand new analytics platform that we believe can help you better understand how your church app is being used. We hope that with this information, you can determine what your church engages with, what needs to be promoted, and what areas might need to be trimmed to shape your app into the perfect tool for your church.

Let’s dive into what makes this new analytics platform so special …

1. Overall App Usage: A Basic Snapshot


A simple snapshot of app usage is the extent of what most platforms offer (and is all that the Tithe.ly Church Apps platform offered before our big version 2.0 update), but it is still important and it is a great way to get an overview of when people are viewing your app and how many are viewing it. 

With our new analytics platform, we give the ability to view 3 different metrics when analyzing overall app usage:

  1. Sessions: This shows how many times the app has been opened by users. 
  2. New Users: This number indicates how many new devices installed the app.
  3. Active Users: This number indicates how many “active” devices have used the app.

Of these metrics, we consider “Sessions” to be the most important, since “New Users” will eventually be nearly zero on a daily basis once everyone at your church has downloaded the app (since everyone will have the app and no one will be downloading it for the first time), and “Active Users” requires someone to use the app regularly (and many may only use the app once or twice a week). But “Sessions” will track every time the app has been used regardless of whether someone is a new user or is using the app daily.

Along with these 3 new metrics, we now also offer the ability to view metrics over different time frames. You can view them over the last 7, 30, 60, 90, or 365 days, and you can break the data down to show daily, weekly, or monthly usage.

By viewing these metrics with different time frames selected, you can get a good idea of when people are using your app throughout the week. Even better, you can see how app usage increases whenever you mention the app on a Sunday morning, on social media, or at an event.

2. Area Views: Where Are People Navigating


Now things start to get exciting! With our updated analytics, you can see how many times any individual section of your app has been viewed. You can view this data over the same time frames that are available within the basic app usage (7, 30, 60, 90, or 365 days).

Over time, this gives you an incredibly powerful way to see what sections of the app are drawing the attention of your users.. With this knowledge, you’ll know what sections are highly utilized (meaning that you need to make sure they remain prominent in the app), and what sections are unused (meaning that you may need to make them more obvious in the app, you may need to promote them more on Sundays and on social media, or you may just need to remove them).

At Tithe.ly, we believe that less is more when it comes to church apps. That doesn’t mean your church app should not have a LOT of amazing content, but it does mean that you need to be cautious about bloating your church app with content people will not need or want to regularly access. The “Area Views” data can help you see what content needs to be trimmed to make your app feel useful to everyone who is using it. 

3. Post Views: What Content Are People Engaging With


“Area Views” gives you a better idea of how your church app is being used than any other church app platform can, but we didn’t stop there. We know that churches are often familiar with seeing analytics for how podcasts episodes are viewed, and we wanted to give the same experience across your entire church app.

When you are viewing the “Area Views,” many area names will start with an asterisk. The asterisk indicates that these areas contain individual posts, and if you select the blue bar above that area name, it will load out all of the posts for that area, showing how many times each post has been viewed.

This means that from within your Tithe.ly dashboard, you can now see how many times people have viewed individual:

  • Audio sermons
  • Videos
  • Sermon notes
  • Prayer requests
  • Events
  • Blog posts
  • Push notification messages
  • Photo albums

Just like with “Area Views” and “Overall App Usage,” this information can be broken down to show usage across 7, 30, 60, 90, or 365 days. With these post metrics, you can ensure people are viewing the information that is important within the app, and if they are not, you can start pushing to promote it and see how that influences app usage from week to week.

Over to you

Our new analytics tool gives your church the ability to measure many different dimensions of app usage, and we can’t wait to see how it helps churches shape their apps into exactly what they need.

Keep in mind that if your app is not being used the way you were hoping, then you are a few simple steps away from WATCHING that change happen. By simply mentioning the app on Sunday morning on a weekly basis, you can easily create momentum that you will see within the app from week to week. As you think through what relevant content you church can offer every single week (events calendar, sermon notes, prayer requests) and start pushing those items, you’ll be amazed at what 5 seconds of promotion can do every week!

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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Measure Engagement Like Never Before with Tithe.ly's Church App Analytics 2.0