Generosity

How Did COVID-19 Affect Giving?

When the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the world in early 2020, the Church was shaken–but far from being destroyed. The future of the Church still looked uncertain in many ways–especially in terms of finances. How would COVID-19 affect giving? Could churches survive financially? Could they thrive financially? Nearly two years after the onset of the global pandemic, we’re ready to answer those questions. In this article, we’ll focus on how COVID-19 specifically impacted giving–and the important lessons we’ve learned on Church, resilience, and technology.

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

When the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the world in early 2020, the Church was shaken–but far from being destroyed. 

Though some smaller churches shut their doors, many church leaders learned to quickly pivot and adapt to change. Churches that had never used digital technology began to set up websites and livestreaming, and churches that already had an online presence added to their suite of technologies. Using tools like Zoom and Tithe.ly, church members continued to fellowship, dive into the Word together, and be transformed into the likeness of Christ. 

In other words, the Church prevailed (Matthew 16:18). 

That didn’t leave church leaders without questions or concerns, however. The future of the Church still looked uncertain in many ways–especially in terms of finances. 

How would COVID-19 affect giving? Could churches survive financially? Could they thrive financially?

Nearly two years after the onset of the global pandemic, we’re ready to answer those questions. In this article, we’ll focus on how COVID-19 specifically impacted giving–and the important lessons we’ve learned on Church, resilience, and technology. 

Early 2020: Giving remained stable. 

When COVID-19 hit the United States in February and March of 2020, many people immediately lost their jobs. Businesses shuttered their doors. Uncertainty about the future impacted consumer trust in just about every industry. 

That being said, tithing to the church did not decrease for the majority of churches. In fact, 59% of church leaders reported that giving to the church in April 2020 was higher than it was in April 2019. And 72% of church leaders said that giving in April 2020 was higher than it was in January 2020. 

That’s a remarkable statistic, considering the total impact of COVID-19 on the economy, including a sharp downturn in employment and a historical recession. 

The pandemic affected the way we work, operate, and communicate. Responding to changing circumstances, businesses, leaders, and teams all over the planet quickly innovated and found new ways to use technology. 

For the church, that looked like rapid technology adoption. Some churches scrambled to quickly go online, setting up online giving and streaming services for the first time. Others reinforced their existing online presence with an app, Zoom call prayer meetings, and stronger social media accounts. 

Finally, many churches learned to operate remotely with their internal staff. They used tools like project management systems and CRM’s to help them work more efficiently from a distance. 

According to consulting firm McKinsey, COVID-19 accelerated technology adoption at an average rate of 3-4 years across the globe. For churches, that rate may have been even faster. For example, churches all over the world quickly adopted digital giving platforms at a rate that would have taken 10 years under “normal” circumstances. 

The bottom line? When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, it changed the church…but not in the way we thought.

2021: Churches continue to prosper. 

At the onset of COVID-19, people made plenty of predictions about what would unfold over time. Much of that forecasting turned out to be incorrect, not only concerning the health outcomes of the pandemic, but the societal repercussions. 

Two years after COVID-19 hit, we’re now in a position to ask the question: Did COVID-19 have a lasting impact on the church? Did it have a lasting impact on giving?

Just like the initial effects of COVID-19 on generosity and tithing, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the longer-term outcomes of the pandemic. 

Secular publication U.S. News reported that nearly one year after the pandemic hit, churches were in a far better financial position than they had anticipated. 

The Southern Baptist Convention–the largest Baptist denomination in the world–predicted it would fall short of its budget by 20%. When the fiscal year ended in September, they had fallen short by only 2%. 

According to Lifeway Research, nearly half of all Protestant pastors say that the current economy isn’t impacting their congregation. The same report says that most churches that saw an initial decline in giving have seen a rebound in generosity in 2021. 

Giving isn’t perfect. Seven in 10 pastors said that giving met their budget, still leaving 30% with a deficit. Still, the  number of churches with a decline in giving is still back to a “historic norm.”

Church leaders agree that one of the central factors for overall success and sustainability has been a church’s ability to innovate, pivot, and go digital. 

“Churches, who had no reputation for innovation, learned how to innovate overnight from the smallest to the biggest,” Revered Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said. “They had no choice. It was either that or go off the map, the only way was technology.”

Here are three reasons that churches were able to respond successfully to the COVID-19 pandemic–and not only sustain, but grow, their giving. 

Innovation

As mentioned above, many churches learned to innovate during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding creative new ways to operate, communicate, and continue pastoring their congregation. 

Innovation included: 

  • Online giving platforms that allow church members to give online, on their mobile phones, through text messaging, and more.
  • CRM’s for churches, or online databases that allow churches to manage their contacts and better communicate with their congregations. 
  • Livestreaming services that allowed church members to continue learning, worshipping, and participating in church from home. 
  • Mobile apps to help make remote participation in church quick and easy. 
  • And more–Zoom call worship, drive-by birthday parties with church members, meal trains for the sick, and more. 
Author Carey Nieuwhof says, “If there’s one thing the church needs today, it’s more innovation in our methods. The mission never changes, but frankly, the methods have to.”

Churches all over the world faced myriad challenges presented by COVID-19. Churches that chose innovation in the face of these challenges were more likely to succeed at maintaining growth. 

Automation

A second significant factor that helped churches succeed during the pandemic was automation. 

Automation takes the manual, in-person work out of basic processes like receiving donations, communicating with staff, and planning events. During the COVID-19 pandemic, automation was clutch. 

But in the long run, automation does much more than enable remote work. It also saves churches money, cutting costs on administrative labor. It creates more time and space for ministry by streamlining tasks and removing needless work. And it reduces user error and inaccuracies in communication and data input. 

Churches that chose to automate some of their processes during the pandemic ultimately did more than create an effective remote work environment. They also created a more efficient, more sustainable organization that was equipped to run on tithes and donations. 

More Money

It should be noted that some people actually made more money during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

People who were fortunate enough not to lose their jobs or take a paycut were able to save money on travel, gas, eating out, entertainment, and shopping. And the government stimulus checks represented additional income and a comfortable cushion for many. 

In fact, Americans let go of $123 billion in revolving debt–such as from credit cards–in 2020. The pandemic was a wake-up call for many who did not have savings or cash on hand. For some, more conservative spending ultimately led to more money to give. 

What we’ve learned so far

Very few–if any–church leaders could have anticipated a disruption like the global COVID-19 pandemic. The fear, uncertainty, and fallout from the pandemic have been extremely difficult at best, catastrophic at worst. 

And yet, the pandemic taught us a few important lessons about the Church. The pandemic showed us that the Church is strong, willing to pivot and innovate when necessary. Not only that, but the pandemic showed us what helps the Church to succeed and survive during times of economic uncertainty. 

Here are five lessons we’ve learned since March 2020. 

Lesson #1: The Church is resilient. 

For 2,000 years the Church has survived persecution, war, scandal, and disappointment. 

And why should we be surprised? 

In Matthew 16, Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).

As followers of Christ and readers of the Bible, we know that nothing can destroy the Church. And though COVID-19 saw the closure of many churches across the U.S., it also saw the revitalization of faith for many. 

A report from Pew Research found that more than a quarter of all Americans (28%) said that the pandemic had strengthened their personal religious faith. And more than three in 10 Americans believe that the pandemic carries “one or more lessons from God.”

The Church is resilient. The pandemic only reinforced that reality, showing us that God uses all things–even a virus–to draw us closer to Himself. 

Lesson #2: Generosity doesn’t necessarily depend on circumstances. 

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:9-10)

God does not operate the way we do. He doesn’t look at a limited amount of resources and decide what He can and cannot afford to give. He is the God of all resources; everything is His. 

That being said, the generosity of His people does not depend on their external circumstances. Many of us may have heard stories of radical generosity even in the face of extreme challenge; Jesus Himself commended the widow who “put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44). 

In 2020 and 2021, we’ve discovered that followers of Christ can be extremely generous even during times of economic uncertainty and upheaval. Why? Because generosity is not a bank account issue; it’s a heart issue. 

Lesson #3: Technology helps. 

When churches were faced with new challenges in 2020, they found solutions in technology. 

Churches that had already adopted digital tools such as mobile apps, online giving, and livestreaming heaved a sigh of relief. They had systems in place to help them handle the pandemic. And churches that didn’t yet have those tools quickly got on board, setting up websites, streaming services, and PM systems to help them shift online. 

New technologies are more than a quick fix solution. Tools like Tithe.ly and Zoom make work–and life–more efficient and convenient over the long haul. Perhaps most importantly, they create space for what’s really important…like spending time in the Word, encouraging others in Christ, and doing the work of Jesus in our communities. 

Lesson #4: Innovative churches do better. 

As mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic forced churches to quickly innovate solutions for pastoring congregations at a distance. That included developing new systems and adopting new tools for communication, giving, event planning, and more. 

Most importantly, churches learned to adopt an attitude of innovation. Regardless of what kinds of tools they chose to use, they learned to problem-solve, pivot, and shift. They learned to be creative in the face of an unprecedented challenge. 

According to author and leadership expert Gordon Tredgold, “Innovation makes it easier to grow, regardless of size...”

“It's normal to want to maintain the status quo,” continues Tredgold. “You assume that since it's worked for you in the past, it will work for you in the future. In reality, the status quo only works for so long. If you're going to keep your doors open, you have to innovate.”

Though Tredgold was talking about businesses, the principle remains the same for churches. Organizations that are willing to take risks are more likely to survive and thrive.

Lesson #5: The future looks bright. 

These past two years have been extremely challenging and at times, profoundly discouraging. And yet, there is always hope. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Many of us have testimonies of how God worked through COVID-19 to bring unexpected blessings. We’ve seen God sustain and even increase giving. We’ve seen His people bring innovative solutions to churches. Most significantly, we’ve seen the Church continue to advance His Kingdom and bring glory to Jesus. 

Moving Forward

If your church is still struggling to bring in funding, consider adopting an online giving platform like Tithe.ly. 
Tithe.ly makes it simple for your church members to give in a variety of ways, including text-to-give, on a desktop, on mobile, at a kiosk, with a good old-fashioned check, or even with cryptocurrency. Tithe.ly also offers a variety of features that make operations and internal management more efficient and cost-effective. To learn more about Tithe.ly, click here.

podcast transcript

(Scroll for more)

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Special Offer

Blog

How Did COVID-19 Affect Giving?

How Did COVID-19 Affect Giving?

When the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the world in early 2020, the Church was shaken–but far from being destroyed. The future of the Church still looked uncertain in many ways–especially in terms of finances. How would COVID-19 affect giving? Could churches survive financially? Could they thrive financially? Nearly two years after the onset of the global pandemic, we’re ready to answer those questions. In this article, we’ll focus on how COVID-19 specifically impacted giving–and the important lessons we’ve learned on Church, resilience, and technology.

Show notes

When the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the world in early 2020, the Church was shaken–but far from being destroyed. 

Though some smaller churches shut their doors, many church leaders learned to quickly pivot and adapt to change. Churches that had never used digital technology began to set up websites and livestreaming, and churches that already had an online presence added to their suite of technologies. Using tools like Zoom and Tithe.ly, church members continued to fellowship, dive into the Word together, and be transformed into the likeness of Christ. 

In other words, the Church prevailed (Matthew 16:18). 

That didn’t leave church leaders without questions or concerns, however. The future of the Church still looked uncertain in many ways–especially in terms of finances. 

How would COVID-19 affect giving? Could churches survive financially? Could they thrive financially?

Nearly two years after the onset of the global pandemic, we’re ready to answer those questions. In this article, we’ll focus on how COVID-19 specifically impacted giving–and the important lessons we’ve learned on Church, resilience, and technology. 

Early 2020: Giving remained stable. 

When COVID-19 hit the United States in February and March of 2020, many people immediately lost their jobs. Businesses shuttered their doors. Uncertainty about the future impacted consumer trust in just about every industry. 

That being said, tithing to the church did not decrease for the majority of churches. In fact, 59% of church leaders reported that giving to the church in April 2020 was higher than it was in April 2019. And 72% of church leaders said that giving in April 2020 was higher than it was in January 2020. 

That’s a remarkable statistic, considering the total impact of COVID-19 on the economy, including a sharp downturn in employment and a historical recession. 

The pandemic affected the way we work, operate, and communicate. Responding to changing circumstances, businesses, leaders, and teams all over the planet quickly innovated and found new ways to use technology. 

For the church, that looked like rapid technology adoption. Some churches scrambled to quickly go online, setting up online giving and streaming services for the first time. Others reinforced their existing online presence with an app, Zoom call prayer meetings, and stronger social media accounts. 

Finally, many churches learned to operate remotely with their internal staff. They used tools like project management systems and CRM’s to help them work more efficiently from a distance. 

According to consulting firm McKinsey, COVID-19 accelerated technology adoption at an average rate of 3-4 years across the globe. For churches, that rate may have been even faster. For example, churches all over the world quickly adopted digital giving platforms at a rate that would have taken 10 years under “normal” circumstances. 

The bottom line? When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, it changed the church…but not in the way we thought.

2021: Churches continue to prosper. 

At the onset of COVID-19, people made plenty of predictions about what would unfold over time. Much of that forecasting turned out to be incorrect, not only concerning the health outcomes of the pandemic, but the societal repercussions. 

Two years after COVID-19 hit, we’re now in a position to ask the question: Did COVID-19 have a lasting impact on the church? Did it have a lasting impact on giving?

Just like the initial effects of COVID-19 on generosity and tithing, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the longer-term outcomes of the pandemic. 

Secular publication U.S. News reported that nearly one year after the pandemic hit, churches were in a far better financial position than they had anticipated. 

The Southern Baptist Convention–the largest Baptist denomination in the world–predicted it would fall short of its budget by 20%. When the fiscal year ended in September, they had fallen short by only 2%. 

According to Lifeway Research, nearly half of all Protestant pastors say that the current economy isn’t impacting their congregation. The same report says that most churches that saw an initial decline in giving have seen a rebound in generosity in 2021. 

Giving isn’t perfect. Seven in 10 pastors said that giving met their budget, still leaving 30% with a deficit. Still, the  number of churches with a decline in giving is still back to a “historic norm.”

Church leaders agree that one of the central factors for overall success and sustainability has been a church’s ability to innovate, pivot, and go digital. 

“Churches, who had no reputation for innovation, learned how to innovate overnight from the smallest to the biggest,” Revered Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said. “They had no choice. It was either that or go off the map, the only way was technology.”

Here are three reasons that churches were able to respond successfully to the COVID-19 pandemic–and not only sustain, but grow, their giving. 

Innovation

As mentioned above, many churches learned to innovate during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding creative new ways to operate, communicate, and continue pastoring their congregation. 

Innovation included: 

  • Online giving platforms that allow church members to give online, on their mobile phones, through text messaging, and more.
  • CRM’s for churches, or online databases that allow churches to manage their contacts and better communicate with their congregations. 
  • Livestreaming services that allowed church members to continue learning, worshipping, and participating in church from home. 
  • Mobile apps to help make remote participation in church quick and easy. 
  • And more–Zoom call worship, drive-by birthday parties with church members, meal trains for the sick, and more. 
Author Carey Nieuwhof says, “If there’s one thing the church needs today, it’s more innovation in our methods. The mission never changes, but frankly, the methods have to.”

Churches all over the world faced myriad challenges presented by COVID-19. Churches that chose innovation in the face of these challenges were more likely to succeed at maintaining growth. 

Automation

A second significant factor that helped churches succeed during the pandemic was automation. 

Automation takes the manual, in-person work out of basic processes like receiving donations, communicating with staff, and planning events. During the COVID-19 pandemic, automation was clutch. 

But in the long run, automation does much more than enable remote work. It also saves churches money, cutting costs on administrative labor. It creates more time and space for ministry by streamlining tasks and removing needless work. And it reduces user error and inaccuracies in communication and data input. 

Churches that chose to automate some of their processes during the pandemic ultimately did more than create an effective remote work environment. They also created a more efficient, more sustainable organization that was equipped to run on tithes and donations. 

More Money

It should be noted that some people actually made more money during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

People who were fortunate enough not to lose their jobs or take a paycut were able to save money on travel, gas, eating out, entertainment, and shopping. And the government stimulus checks represented additional income and a comfortable cushion for many. 

In fact, Americans let go of $123 billion in revolving debt–such as from credit cards–in 2020. The pandemic was a wake-up call for many who did not have savings or cash on hand. For some, more conservative spending ultimately led to more money to give. 

What we’ve learned so far

Very few–if any–church leaders could have anticipated a disruption like the global COVID-19 pandemic. The fear, uncertainty, and fallout from the pandemic have been extremely difficult at best, catastrophic at worst. 

And yet, the pandemic taught us a few important lessons about the Church. The pandemic showed us that the Church is strong, willing to pivot and innovate when necessary. Not only that, but the pandemic showed us what helps the Church to succeed and survive during times of economic uncertainty. 

Here are five lessons we’ve learned since March 2020. 

Lesson #1: The Church is resilient. 

For 2,000 years the Church has survived persecution, war, scandal, and disappointment. 

And why should we be surprised? 

In Matthew 16, Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).

As followers of Christ and readers of the Bible, we know that nothing can destroy the Church. And though COVID-19 saw the closure of many churches across the U.S., it also saw the revitalization of faith for many. 

A report from Pew Research found that more than a quarter of all Americans (28%) said that the pandemic had strengthened their personal religious faith. And more than three in 10 Americans believe that the pandemic carries “one or more lessons from God.”

The Church is resilient. The pandemic only reinforced that reality, showing us that God uses all things–even a virus–to draw us closer to Himself. 

Lesson #2: Generosity doesn’t necessarily depend on circumstances. 

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:9-10)

God does not operate the way we do. He doesn’t look at a limited amount of resources and decide what He can and cannot afford to give. He is the God of all resources; everything is His. 

That being said, the generosity of His people does not depend on their external circumstances. Many of us may have heard stories of radical generosity even in the face of extreme challenge; Jesus Himself commended the widow who “put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44). 

In 2020 and 2021, we’ve discovered that followers of Christ can be extremely generous even during times of economic uncertainty and upheaval. Why? Because generosity is not a bank account issue; it’s a heart issue. 

Lesson #3: Technology helps. 

When churches were faced with new challenges in 2020, they found solutions in technology. 

Churches that had already adopted digital tools such as mobile apps, online giving, and livestreaming heaved a sigh of relief. They had systems in place to help them handle the pandemic. And churches that didn’t yet have those tools quickly got on board, setting up websites, streaming services, and PM systems to help them shift online. 

New technologies are more than a quick fix solution. Tools like Tithe.ly and Zoom make work–and life–more efficient and convenient over the long haul. Perhaps most importantly, they create space for what’s really important…like spending time in the Word, encouraging others in Christ, and doing the work of Jesus in our communities. 

Lesson #4: Innovative churches do better. 

As mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic forced churches to quickly innovate solutions for pastoring congregations at a distance. That included developing new systems and adopting new tools for communication, giving, event planning, and more. 

Most importantly, churches learned to adopt an attitude of innovation. Regardless of what kinds of tools they chose to use, they learned to problem-solve, pivot, and shift. They learned to be creative in the face of an unprecedented challenge. 

According to author and leadership expert Gordon Tredgold, “Innovation makes it easier to grow, regardless of size...”

“It's normal to want to maintain the status quo,” continues Tredgold. “You assume that since it's worked for you in the past, it will work for you in the future. In reality, the status quo only works for so long. If you're going to keep your doors open, you have to innovate.”

Though Tredgold was talking about businesses, the principle remains the same for churches. Organizations that are willing to take risks are more likely to survive and thrive.

Lesson #5: The future looks bright. 

These past two years have been extremely challenging and at times, profoundly discouraging. And yet, there is always hope. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Many of us have testimonies of how God worked through COVID-19 to bring unexpected blessings. We’ve seen God sustain and even increase giving. We’ve seen His people bring innovative solutions to churches. Most significantly, we’ve seen the Church continue to advance His Kingdom and bring glory to Jesus. 

Moving Forward

If your church is still struggling to bring in funding, consider adopting an online giving platform like Tithe.ly. 
Tithe.ly makes it simple for your church members to give in a variety of ways, including text-to-give, on a desktop, on mobile, at a kiosk, with a good old-fashioned check, or even with cryptocurrency. Tithe.ly also offers a variety of features that make operations and internal management more efficient and cost-effective. To learn more about Tithe.ly, click here.

video transcript

(Scroll for more)