Church Giving During COVID: Reasons for Optimism
God’s people are still giving, churches are learning from this pandemic, and God is still faithful.
October 26, 2020
How people shop and give continues to change. From making purchases to donating money, online is becoming the new normal.
You can probably observe these changes taking place in your life, as well as in the life of your church and community. For many people in the United States, we tend to think digital first when we’re shopping for something new, and we’re slowly getting accustomed to using our phones for social media, shopping, and even giving.
To help you stay up-to-date with these latest changes, we like to keep our thumbs on the pulse of the latest research. According to a new study by Dunham+Company, they have observed a dramatic increase in churches who offer online giving since 2015. In their research, they not only uncovered this significant finding, but they also unearthed several additional trends you and your church need to know and plan for.
Here are three key findings from Dunham+Company, as well as a list of best practices to increase your church’s online giving.
Based on the Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker study, there has been a significant increase in churches who now offer online giving. From their research, they discovered that 74% of churches in the United States now offer online giving, which is up from 42% in 2015.
Based upon trends in consumer behavior, we believe the number of churches who offer online giving will continue to climb steadily. What is more, there are also several reasons why we think the number of people who give online or with their mobile device will increase, and that churches both big and small will observe an increase in their online giving.
For more information on these trends, check out How Giving Changed in 2017: 4 Trends Your Church Needs to Know.
Even though smaller churches observed the most considerable uptick in offering online giving, smaller churches also experience the greatest challenges in leading people to give online.
From 2015 to 2017, the number of smaller churches in the U.S. who now offer online giving increased from 29% to 59%. As you can see in the graph above, despite the significant increase in the number of smaller churches who offer online giving, the number of people who actually give online in these churches decreased.
Commenting upon this trend, Trent Dunham, President of Dunham+Company, said, “Clearly larger churches are making [online giving] a priority while smaller churches are still struggling—even though the percentage who are offering the option to give online has basically doubled.”
As smaller churches embrace online giving, there are several reasons why many of their members are not giving online, which leads us to the next point.
Whether your church is big or small, there are various hurdles every church faces in leading people to give online. Here are some obstacles to online giving Dunham highlighted in their study:
Depending on the demographics of your church, you may have a congregation of people who are not inclined to give online for different reasons. This isn’t something to be concerned about, but it’s still a good idea to provide people with several ways to give, which will increase your church’s giving.
A giving Kiosk may seem out of reach for smaller churches, but that’s not the case. With Tithe.ly, you can turn your tablets or computers into a giving Kiosk that allows people to make a one-time donation or set up recurring giving in seconds.
When it comes to building an app for your church, the concerns usually are the same as giving Kiosks. Many church leaders believe they’re cost prohibitive, time-consuming, or not necessary.
Well, things are changing fast, and the costs of getting an app for your church are declining, and mobile giving is rapidly increasing. What is more, as I pointed out above, providing additional ways your members can give will increase giving in your church.
If you’re the pastor of a small church or a volunteer leader, don’t allow these common hurdles to keep you from moving forward with using and promoting digital giving tools in your church.
To help you lead your church to embrace online giving, I reached out to Eric Bryant, Tithe.ly’s Implementation Team Lead, to provide some insight. Eric has been in ministry for more than 10 years, and he has helped countless churches launch new digital giving tools.
From his experience working, Eric said, “When it comes to giving, the biggest pain point for pastors in smaller churches is that their desperately needs more giving to grow.” He went on to say, “Some pastors are worried that if they teach Biblical generosity that people will be offended and stop giving altogether.”
In combating this fear, what Eric learned over the years is that people “will be more offended if you skirt around the issue of giving and don’t speak clearly and concisely.”
Talking about money isn’t easy. It’s a personal conversation, and most people don’t like the idea of someone knowing about their spending or giving habits. But this discomfort isn’t a reason to shy away from preaching or teaching on the subject.
Eric encourages church leaders to not "be timid when talking about giving and generosity.” Instead, he suggests, "Be bold and direct.”
If you’re not sure where to start or need help on what to preach about giving, check out 2 Sermons on Giving Your Church Must Hear.
For promoting online giving, you don’t need a fog machine, light show, or fireworks. The only thing you need to do is to let people know all of the ways they can give regularly. .
“When you’re making an offering, let your church know that they can give online or with their mobile device. It doesn’t have to be flashy. Just informative.”
If your church uses a projector, Eric also recommends this idea, “Display a slide on the screen showing all the different ways that people can give when talking about giving in service.”
Offering more giving opportunities and just letting people know what options are available will go a long way in building a generous culture in your church.
God is alive, and he’s at work in your church. He's giving people new life in Christ, he’s restoring marriages, and he’s transforming people into generous givers.
To capture God’s work in your church, Eric suggests, “Use personal testimonies from givers in your church. Give people the opportunity to share how being generous changed their life and the lives of others.”
Sharing stories with your church is one way you can illustrate God’s work in the lives of people and encourage the members of your church to honor God with their money.
What have you found helpful in leading people to give online? Share your ideas in the comments below.