Health and Growth

9 Charitable Giving Statistics Your Church or Ministry Needs to Know

As a church or ministry, understanding giving and fundraising statistics is important! This information can help you sucessfully raise more money and make a greater impact in your community.

9 Charitable Giving Statistics Your Church or Ministry Needs to Know
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We like talking about numbers at Tithe.ly. It’s what we do.

Fundraising statistics and the numbers related to them are of particular interest to us. Especially as they relate to the Church!

One thing we like about numbers, or in this case, charitable and church giving statistics, is that they provide real data you can use to make informed decisions as a church or ministry. Having information gathered from different resources can inform the tactics you use as a church to raise financial support.

There is a tremendous amount of information available that we can share with you. But we found the following nine charitable giving statistics worth your consideration.

#1. The amount of money donated to charitable organizations is HUGE!

In 2016, $390.05 billion was donated to charitable organizations, which is equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Colombia. That's one amazing fundraising statistic!

Here’s what you need to know: Money is not exhaustive.

The members of your church have individual or family budgets to maintain, and their money can only go so far.

As you are building a generous culture, know that the members of your church will be compelled to give to your church and to other organizations or individuals, which is a good thing. Be ready to help the people you serve to think through how they steward their resources.

#2. Religious institutions receive the most charitable giving

Among the donations made in 2016, 32% were made to religious organizations, 15% to education endeavors, and 12% to human services.

For a variety of reasons, many people are more inclined to give to religious institutions.

As a church leader, it’s important to know the different factors that influence whether or not someone in your church is inclined to give and these church giving stats can help you in that endeavor. In short, giving boils down to discipleship.

As you preach the gospel and equip people to live for Christ, you will, over time, observe the people you serve be transformed into generous givers.

#3. More and more people give online every year

In 2016, Blackbaud’s annual Giving Report reported an increase of 7.9% in online giving, which equaled 7.2% of all fundraising. As time goes on, you will observe these numbers to continue to increase until most people in the United States are giving online. Keep an eye on this fundraising statistics as it's going to play a major role in overall giving to churches in years to come.

If your church does not offer an online giving solution, then it would be a good idea to start sooner rather than later.

#4. Mobile giving is growing fast

Roughly 17% of online giving was made on a mobile device.

As of 2015, two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone, and the number of smartphone owners continues to climb, which is why we expect to see the number of people who make donations on a mobile device to dramatically increase in the near future.

It will only be a matter of time when most people are using their smartphone to make donations. Be sure to check the church giving stats mentioned in #9 below to see how mobile giving is impacting the church.

#5. Mobile optimized giving experience are lacking

Even though we are observing an increase in mobile giving, 84% of nonprofits donations landing pages are not optimized for mobile devices. If your site is not optimized for mobile devices, then you run a high-risk of losing mobile donors.

Make it easy for smartphone users to give by providing them with a mobile giving app.

#6. People who choose recurring giving tend to use credit cards

For recurring gifts, 79% are made with a credit card. Your church may not have such a high percentage of members who give recurring gifts with a credit card. But, you should anticipate the number of people in your church who make recurring gifts with debit or credit cards to climb.

Don’t worry about spending thousands of dollars to offer people the opportunity to give with their credit or debit card. With Tithe.ly, you can quickly and affordably provide credit card, debit card, and ACH giving.

#7. It pays to be personal

Half (50%) of donors prefer to receive personalized thank you’s versus fast responses. When you engage with your donors, it’s important to communicate with them one-on-one. As a church leader, you won’t have the ability to do this personally.

But, you can personalize your interactions with donors by branding your communication with them. In other words, you can share who you are with your givers by creating a fluid experience with their donations.

#8. Email is still your best bet

On average, emails have the highest return on investment compared to other marketing channels. Send your church regular emails. Provide them updates. Share announcements. Send encouraging words.

And consider using email as a way of encouraging donations or for one-time gifts. For different reasons, you’ll observe a greater response in contributions from the emails you send versus other channels you use, such as social media.

#9. Mobile giving for churches is a must

If you don’t know much about mobile giving for churches, the first thing you should do is read our complete guide to mobile giving. It will give you all the information you need to get up to speed.  

Once you have a good understanding of what mobile giving is all about, the church giving research (10 Surprising Church Giving Facts that You Absolutely Need to Know) will help you see how mobile giving is impacting the Church all over the world.

Here are a few of the church giving stats that matter…

  • Over 50% of the gifts processed by Tithe.ly in 2016 were $250 or greater.
  • Consistent givers — those that give at least once a month — make up only 15% of the total population, but they account for 51% of dollars given!
  • 67% of giving happens on days other than Sunday.

Back to you…

That’s a lot of data to digest. While you’re thinking about it all … which stat stands out the most to you?

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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9 Charitable Giving Statistics Your Church or Ministry Needs to Know