4 Trends in Giving
- April 06, 2016
- Nathan Ealy
As I travel and visit churches of all shape, size, and denomination I am beginning to see consistent trends across all churches. Here are four that have stuck with me…
- Offering plates during worship have very little if anything in them. That’s not to say people aren’t giving in these churches, of course. So many have switched to electronic means of giving and aren’t using the traditional method of cash or check on a Sunday. An empty offering plate can be unnerving to both members and guests so either provide a card that says “I gave electronically” or add a checkbox on giving envelopes with the same message.
- Smaller churches are beginning to see the need for electronic giving. One current client with which I’m working is small and has an older population. Even so, the leadership is seeing the need for electronic giving. Some members head to Florida during the cold months and others may have to miss for health reasons. Having an electronic option would provide these members the opportunity to give even when they aren’t able to make it in person. Churches of every size need to offer an electronic giving option, no excuses!
- There is still very little understanding of how to give to the church in ways other than cash. When I say cash I am including checks and cards. For some members it would be advantageous to give in other ways. Those over seventy-one and a half can give directly from an IRA which can be beneficial if the member has other sources of income. For those with growing stock portfolios it could be beneficial to give stock and avoid capital gains taxes. There are also more “exotic” giving options such as charitable gift annuities that could provide advantages for both the church and the giver. Leaders in church finance should be sharing all possible ways of giving in order to serve their members well.
- There is also still very little understanding of legacy giving. When I mention this type of giving in churches I often get a blank stare. Most haven’t even thought of including the church in their will or estate plan, that is if they even have one in the first place. Wills aren’t just for the older generation, they are critical for us all. Many spend their lives building wealth in retirement accounts or real estate while giving out of income to the church, but don’t give at the end of their lives out of all that has been accumulated. A great deal of that wealth goes to children, an alma mater, or Uncle Sam. The church can serve their members by helping them plan for end of life giving, and most denominational foundations will partner with the church to facilitate the process.
These are four trends in giving that I am seeing often, and are easy to address. What are you seeing in your own church that needs a specific focus?