Let’s start with the easy and the obvious. What is your weekly offering need? If you don’t know, stop reading this and find out, and don’t come back until you know the answer.
After establishing what your base weekly need is, the next marker you need to know is how giving matches up to your need. Basically, you are asking, “Are we ahead or behind budget.” Let’s call that the Ahead/Behind Marker. So, right now, do you know if you are ahead or behind?
The Comparison Marker comes next. Again, this one is obvious. You want to compare your present giving trends with your past trends. I look to compare how giving is compared to last year, last quarter, and last month. Week-to-week giving will vary due to the varying pay periods of your members.
In other words, I am looking to see if giving is behind or ahead of where we were last year at the same time. How does our current yearly giving total compare to the same period of weeks from last year? Then I look at my last quarter compared to previous quarters and the same quarter as last year. I do the same with the months of the year.
Dollar Markers versus Donor Markers – If you are focused only on comparing the dollars of giving without comparing the donors that are giving you those dollars, you could be headed for disaster. The following are some of the major donor markers I would be looking at and comparing with previous years.
New Donors – You need to know immediately when someone gives to your church for the first time. You MUST have a first-time giving plan for responding to those donors. Why? You want to develop them into consistent givers.
Churn Rate – How many givers did you lose from the last year, and how many did you gain? A typical healthy church will see around a 15% to 20% loss of donors each year. We call that the Churn Rate. Every church has a back door. You want to know that new givers are being added to offset the loss you will experience every year. You also want to find ways to ensure that current donors do not become lapsed donors.
Lapsed Donors – While this strategy takes greater care, you want to discover those whose giving has fallen off in an attempt to regain their full support.
The key to staying fully funded is first to minimize your losses while gaining new donors. You minimize your losses by working first to ensure members connect within your church. Multiple studies have shown that if people get involved in some aspect of your church, they will tend to stay there longer. The recent Barna study found that 45% of Practicing Christians, defined as attending church at least once a month, are comfortable calling themselves generous.1.
50% Line – What percent of your donors give 50% of all that is given? In my over twenty years of financial analysis of hundreds of churches, I have found that, on average, around 15% of a church’s donor base gives 50% of all that is given. This number will be key to whether you are fully funded this year or not. You want to ensure this group stays highly engaged and connected with the vision driving your mission and ministry!
The above illustrates that the few give the majority of what is given. A wise pastor cultivates this group.
Some of the above are easy to track, and other markers are harder. The point is to know your numbers.