In a church’s financial history lies many reasons why a church’s donation either increased or decreased. Listed below are some possible reasons why donations increase or decrease. Always keep in mind that any church needs a way to track donations preferably via software. The following are in no particular order.
A good economy will typically increase donations. Logically speaking, when majority of the population are doing great, they would give more than in a bad economy. Conversely, when the economy falls (i.e. 2007 – 2008), the assumption would be donations fall as well. Studies show this is true for most of the population, except the very poor. They actually dig deeper in their pockets by 4.5% of their income according to Philanthropy.com.
Additionally, according to McClatchyDC, the generosity of the poor (the lowest one-fifth of the population) doesn’t fall as much as the high-income people do when economic times are tough, as per a percentage of income. They advised the following:
America’s poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What’s more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does. Read more here.
Powerful sermons by the pastor that connects and resonates with people can lead to increased donations. This can’t be stressed enough, that all pastors have strengths just like anyone else, and a great orator often compels people to give when they don’t necessarily want to.
Agreement or disagreements among the congregation on the church’s direction can dramatically affect donations. Many times people will vote with their checkbook when things are going or not going the way they envision. It takes strong leader(s) with great orator skills to clearly communicate the direction and persuade the congregation towards their vision.
Unclear communication throughout the pledge, collecting donations, during and after projects can lead to wrong assumptions, miss communication, and future missed opportunities for donations. There always appears to be a fury of activity when a new campaign starts, but when the dust settles, you don’t hear much about it. Did the project ever get built or when is it suppose to be completed? Are we doing okay on the operating budget based on where we are at in the year? Did we meet or exceed the needed project amount? I have witnessed this first hand where I have to ask questions about the money donated or pledged to find out the status on some project. Most people would vote with their checkbook when they don’t hear anything about the previous project that they donated or pledged to.
Does the church rely on a few major donors? This could be another possibility why donations fall and a potential stumbling block for the organization. For example, what happens if one of the main contributors moves or they aren’t donating as much as they have in the past? A church should never put all their eggs in one basket and rely on a few key people. A church should appreciate every donor and as such should have a good mixture of all types.
An increase of Nones (Unaffiliated to any church) could possibly decrease donations. Who are the Nones? Please visit our multi-part blog series – part one, part two, part three, and part four to find out. This may happen demographically over many years where more and more of the population don’t affiliate themselves with any particular church, therefore may donate to other causes. As more community members don’t affiliate with a church, donations overall may decrease.
Disclaimer – One blog could never answer all the why’s about donations in a complete manner, however it’s our hope that the information above can help the church figure out ways to increase donations or answer the questions why they are decreasing.