Christian ministries get an overall C- for our online giving homework. And it’s not because the dog ate it or aliens abducted your paperwork. Christians are notorious for being behind when it comes to how we run businesses and church offices.
Here at Ekklesia 360, we can’t promise you a magic “fix all,” but we can help you with one major way to upgrade your processes: online giving.
Despite the fact that member donations almost exclusively power church ministry, could your church be one of those without a passing grade? According to this national study, American churches fall in the bottom 50% of all of the metrics listed. We can’t let the financial fuel for our faith slide by with a failing grade.
To improve, we need to start analyzing the data that we have about our online donations. From there, we can better understand how it works, how to optimize the process, and how to improve the health of our congregation’s tithing.
5 Online Giving Metrics You Should Be Focusing On:
How often do your members give to the church? Measuring the average frequency of donations is a good way to see trends in the funds that your ministry can operate under. Tracking peak seasons (like holidays) and low seasons can help you better identify the giving habits of your congregation.
Ideally, your members use online tithing as a tool to automatically give in whatever time frame they decide.
By using an online method to collect this gift, you have the power to use historical analytics to anticipate your church's financial situation.
The best way for church leaders to build the annual budget is to base it off of consistent donations—and these recurring gifts are more stable and predictable than on-time tithing.
If you don’t provide the opportunity for your members to give online, you won’t see any growth in it. They’re already online––with devices often at their fingertips––so providing this resource can help members of all age groups better understand why and how their donations are being used. As soon as you’ve established the system, you’ll want to understand the metrics of growth.
Without looking at actual numbers and invading privacy, your leadership team can track both:
- The increase or decrease of the average amount each member is giving.
- The increase or decrease in the percentage of the total congregation that is giving.
According to a Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker study, “Donors 66 and older are now just as likely to make their contributions to charity online as younger donors.” This means that you can accurately use these metrics as a way to measure the overall health of your church, not just the younger members.
By using and tracking your online giving, your church will tap into a powerhouse of data and analytics. And while you could dive deeper into very specific metrics, there’s one very simple question that absolutely requires the attention of a church leader: Why do some members stop giving? As soon as a recurring or regular donor drops off, you should try to understand what caused that to happen. Hopefully, this isn’t a common occurrence––and you should, out of love, try to personally connect with the donor to get to know his or her situation.
Was it something about the online giving process that decreased their desire to give? Or is it a more personal matter of faith or family that needs your personal guidance? It might be something as simple as a debit card renewal, or it might be the sign of a lost job that your pastoral team doesn’t know about. Either way, or somewhere in between, losses to tithing are an essential metric when measuring your church’s health.
4. Campaign Involvement
Outside of the scope of normal ongoing giving, your church may run occasional, larger campaigns to build new facilities, remodel things in need of repair, fund a mission trip, or increase community outreach. During one of these big asks, what is the involvement level of your members? If the campaign isn’t on track to reach its goals, your action is required. This is an indicator of if people are invested in your church’s growth on top of their regular tithing.
If they aren’t invested in this aspect of your church’s future, there may be miscommunication or misrepresentation of your message.
- Is your campaign communication reaching your potential donors?
- Are they invested in your church’s mission out of a sense of purpose and excitement or out of obligation?
- What is making them hesitate?
- Can they easily see exactly where their support is going and how that will benefit the ministry?
By further analyzing campaign involvement beyond the simple “did it work?” you can start to optimize the promotion and the campaign itself to get back on the right track.
You should always operate under a goal-mindset when creating campaigns. You can set goals for your yearly totals, mission trip fundraisers, and ministry-specific funds. By setting these goals, you give your members something to work towards.
At the beginning of your campaign, communicate the start date, end date, and monetary goal of the campaign. Give your members periodic updates along the way in your church announcements, your bulletin, and on social media. This helps your congregation stay informed and work together towards your common goals.
Online giving tools allows you to easily track your goals in real time.
Your online giving dashboard provides breakdowns by source, timeframe, and donation totals — this allows you to analyze which platforms are performing best, what times people are donating the most, and what message is creating the largest impact with your members.