There are three classical reasons why people give to any organization. First, they must believe in the vision of that organization. Second, they must believe and trust in the leadership of the organization, and finally, they must have trust in how that organization handles money. Violate any of these three, and giving will decline, often taking years to reverse. Today we face growing distrust in organizations, even the Church.
The Barna report, Revisiting the Tithe and Offering: The Reality of Church Giving Today, shows how much trust in the Church has fallen. Consider these statistics:
- While 98% of pastors assume members trust them somewhat regarding their leadership around money and budgeting, in reality,
- Just one-third of Christians “completely” trust Christian churches with their financial support.
- U.S. adults at large have a higher trust in nonprofits and a declining trust in churches.
How important is trust? Here is a quote from the Barna study, “Over half of Christians indicate it is an extremely important obligation for churches to demonstrate that funds are being used wisely, effectively, and responsibly. Nearly half say transparency is extremely important as well.”1.
How can we maintain and improve trust? Clearly, we must provide more accountability and transparency moving forward. The Barna study recommendation was to embrace the challenge of cultivating trust. They provided these questions to ask yourself.
How would your congregants assess your church’s financial management?
How would you and church leadership assess your own financial management?
The Barna report listed things Christians saw as important, from using money wisely and responsibly to being clear about how money was used. What is a tangible way your ministry might address each of these obligations?
How could these measures be well known and understood by congregants?
Are there any cues your leadership could take from nonprofits in developing a coherent strategy to build trust through financial management, communication, transparency, and patience? 2.
If we want to maintain and increase giving, we must maintain the highest levels of accountability and transparency!
- Revisiting the Tithe & Offering: The Reality of Church Giving Today Barna Group 2022 p. 41
- Ibid. p. 45