9 Questions to Evaluate Your Church’s Giving Health

9 Questions to Evaluate Your Church’s Giving Health

33 Questions to Evaluate Your Church’s Health. That was the subject line of a recent email I received from Baptist Press. It’s an interesting read and provides a helpful analysis of the spiritual condition of a church. What I found amazing was that there was nothing said about stewardship. Few, if any, studies ever link stewardship with spiritual growth. That is a debate for another Coach. The lack of any mention of giving caused me to think through what questions I use to analyze a church’s financial health. I came up with nine key questions, so this Coach is entitled 9 Questions to Evaluate Your Church’s Giving Health.

If you were to call today to engage my services beyond reading this newsletter, the first thing I would want would be an analysis of your current giving trends. Before Covid, we typically looked at two years of giving history. Now I want to see the giving trends before Covid so I can better compare where a church now stands post-Covid. I ask at least nine different questions to assess the giving health of a church. Here are the questions you can ask to evaluate your church’s giving health.

Is giving ahead or behind your current operating budget? That is my first question. The answer to this question reveals the level of current giving. A church with healthy giving should be ahead or no further behind than two weeks of offering. When I see churches that are running more than two weeks behind, I ask further questions as to why. Was it weather related? Or was it, as is the case most of the time, a budget that was increased without any support for that increase? Any church that is more than two offerings behind must keep an eye on its spending, and it should be planning for a way to reverse this decline.

Is giving ahead or behind the same time as last year? If you are ahead, what do you attribute that to? During Covid, pastors would brag to me that giving had not declined at their church. My question back was always, but where did that money come from? The truth was it wasn’t new donors but existing donors who dug deeper to help their church survive the Lockdowns. If a church is behind, it begs the question, why? What caused that decline? Was it a one-off occurrence, or is this a consistent trend? Ignoring trends can make any recovery harder.

Have the number of giving units increased or declined? We define giving units as a household, not how many people are in attendance. My wife and I give as a couple, so don’t divide our giving by two. And we don’t count anything below annual giving of $200 as we are attempting to analyze consistent donors, not your Christmas and Easter crowd.

What is the average given by your giving units weekly? To find this number, take your weekly offering average and divide it by the number of giving units in your church. A healthy giving church has at least a $50-a-week giving average. Growing churches are often in the $80 to $100 range of average given by giving units. I want to compare this average year over year. This average is one of the best ways to track giving growth.

What percentage gives over $5K, and what percentage gives under $5K? My goal is to get my clients to a point where at least 60% of all gifts come from those giving $5K and above, with 40% below that number.

What is my 50% line? What percentage of your donors gave 50% of all that was given last year? We have found that, on average, 15% of a church’s donors give 50% of what is given. The larger the church, the lower that percentage. My super mega clients typically see around 5% to 10% of their donors giving 50% of what is given. What is your percentage?

What does my Over/Under data reveal? Ten years ago, I would want to know how many of your top donors are above and below 50 years of age. I now put that line at 60. If the majority of your donors are above 60 years of age, you are heading into difficult days as they retire and pass on into eternity. I now gauge a healthy church as one that has a 40/60 over/under split. The aging out of our key donors is perhaps one of the greatest challenges the Church faces in the future.

What is my Churn Rate? Non-profits know the value of retaining a donor. It is easier to retain a donor than to gain a donor. Most churches see a yearly Churn Rate of 15% or more. You will always have deaths and transfers. For most churches, any Churn Rate over 20% is cause for concern and needs to be investigated.

How many new donors did you gain? Every church has a Churn Rate. Thus, to keep your church financially healthy, you must add new donors annually to offset those you lose. Do you have a new donor-giving plan? If not, you should.

Those are the nine basic questions I always look at when evaluating a church’s stewardship health. Some of those questions are asked yearly, and some need to be monitored weekly. Now with church management systems and online giving, it is easier than ever to analyze data.

When was your last check-up? A friend of mine called the other day to say he had been diagnosed with colon cancer. The good news is that they caught it early, and colon cancer is one of the easiest cancers to beat if it is detected early. My friend has great confidence in a full recovery. My father-in-law passed away several years ago from colon cancer. He didn’t like going to doctors as he hated to get bad news. He avoided annual checkups and even avoided the doctor when he began to experience pain. When he finally relented to going to the doctor, his cancer was so far advanced that they sent him home. Six weeks later, he was dead. Our family can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he had kept all his annual physicals.

Could your church be in trouble without you knowing it? If you are not current on your financial data and metrics, you could be heading for financial ruin. Take time to ask these nine questions and then act upon what you find. The life you save might be the life of your church!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed after you register at: http://acts17generosity.com/simple-file-list/Offering-Talks/2023-53-Talks-for-53-Sundays/June-11th-VBS-Trivia.pdf

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