Do you know how your members give to your church? Twenty years ago, that question would have been easy to answer as most churches provided few giving options beyond the Sunday morning offering plate. Things have changed dramatically, according to a new study done by the Barna Group. Barna recently asked over 500 U.S. pastors how the majority of their givers donate money. Here’s what pastors reported:
- In person by check or cash (49%)
- An even mix of digital and check / cash (30%)
- Digitally (16%)
- I do not handle congregant donations (5%)
- I don’t know (1%)1.
A better question might be, do your members know the various ways by which they can give? Here is what respondents to the Barna study said about what means of giving their church offered.
- 43% said an offering plate at church.
- 31% said Online/web giving.
- 22% said mobile giving via an app or browser.
- 22% said ACH or automated checking account withdrawal.
- 19% said some other form of electronic giving.
- 20% said mobile giving via a text message.
- 18% said kiosk or terminal giving.
The study then asked respondents to state how they gave to their church. Here are their findings:
- 25% said through an offering plate at church, down from 34% pre-Covid.
- 17% said through online/web giving.
- 15% said through ACH or automated checking account withdrawal.
- 14% said by mobile giving via app or browser.
- 12% said some other form of electronic giving.
- 12% said mobile giving via a text message.
- 12% said via kiosk or terminal giving.
The Barna study stated that “Christians report only a slightly increased awareness of several digital methods of giving since the pandemic started (including giving via online tools, mobile apps, text messages, digital kiosks or bank transfers).”
One thing is clear from the study, Americans are now using multiple platforms for their church giving. At the same time, it shows that pastors seem to have a lack of understanding of how their members are actually giving. More now are giving through some digital means than through a traditional offering plate. Yet, pastors seem to think the opposite. If you are going to see an increase in giving, you must know how people give and then provide that option for them.
A key takeaway from this study is this if you are going to be fully funded, you must provide multiple platforms for people to give through. Why? Because the easier you make it for people to give, the more likely it is they will give. If the only option you provide is through a physical offering plate, you might find yourself struggling to make your budget numbers. Times have changed, and so must our giving platforms. Build now the 21st-century platforms for giving if you want to be fully funded. The key is to have multiple ways in which members can give. Today people like to have choices and options.
Do you know how your members give? Better yet, do they know the many ways in which they can give? Making sure they know the answer to that question could determine your financial future.
- Revisiting the Tithe & Offering by The Barna Group 2022.