Four Emerging Trends in Giving
In my role as a Ministry Strategist, I have the opportunity to visit churches of many shapes, sizes, and denominations. I have observed four consistent trends recently that I share with you here:
1. Offering plates have very little, if anything, in them.
That’s not to say people aren’t giving in these churches, of course, but many now offer electronic giving options as well. An empty offering plate being passed down the pews can be unnerving to both members and guests. To enable electronic givers to participate in the offering, provide cards indicating “I gave electronically” that can be placed in the offering plate.
2. Electronic giving is not just for large churches any more.
One current client is a fairly small church with an aging 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. Being able to give online or through EFT (electronic funds transfer) enables these members to contribute even when they aren’t able to attend church. Churches of every size need to offer electronic giving options, no excuses!
3. Churches don’t promote ways to give other than cash.
There is still very little understanding of how to give to the church in ways other than cash (including checks and credit/debit cards). For some members, it is advantageous to give in other ways. Members who are seventy-one and a half years of age or older can give to the church directly from their IRAs, often realizing significant tax benefits. For those with appreciated stocks, it may be beneficial to contribute stock, as neither the church nor the donor would be required to pay a capital gains tax. Church finance leaders should provide comprehensive information so members may choose which giving options are best for their circumstances.
4. Legacy giving is not well understood.
When I mention this type of giving in churches, I frequently get a blank stare. Most members haven’t even thought of including the church in their will or estate plans. Some haven’t even created a will or estate plan in the first place. Wills aren’t just for the older generation but are critical for everyone regardless of age. Many generous church members spend their lives accumulating wealth in retirement accounts, real estate or other assets but don’t give at the end of their lives out of all that has been accrued. A great deal of that wealth goes to children, an alma mater, or even Uncle Sam. Most denominational foundations will partner with the church to provide resources and guidance for important end-of-life giving decisions.
These are the trends in giving I am seeing most often. What are you seeing in your own church that needs a specific focus?