How to Demonstrate a Return on Investment to Your Donors

by | April 11, 2018

One of the most frequently cited reasons for making a charitable donation is the donor’s desire to make a difference in the world. People want to see their donations at work. Donors want to know their gift is making a difference, and they want to see a return on their investment (ROI). However, in the church, we frequently fail to help people make the connection between ministry and money. Rather than ask people to help us make an impact, we invite people to support the general budget. How can we encourage giving by demonstrating a real return on investment to our donors?

To increase giving, churches need to tell inspiring stories of life-change.

They need to demonstrate an ROI to their donors. Churches that thrive create strategies for connecting donations to the church’s ability to do life-changing ministry. Transformational stories happen every week within and beyond your church walls. It is important to tell your donors how their support is making these stories possible.

Here’s how to demonstrate a return on investment.

Create a strategy for connecting giving to 52 life-changing ministries every year. Through inspiring stories, tell donors how annual giving is impacting people in real and tangible ways.

  • Share one story a week. Every time the congregation gathers for worship, share a story about how the financial generosity of people has resulted in a changed life. Invite people who have been directly impacted to tell their stories.
  • Connect the story to the offering time. The most obvious time to share this story is right before the offering. By sharing stories prior to the offering, you are helping people connect their giving with the church’s ability to do ministry.
  • Make it brief! Tell the story as briefly as possible—preferably in a minute or less, and be sure to have the storyteller write it down to avoid going off script.
  • Spread the love. Your church participates in a variety of ministries. Be intentional about highlighting the many ways that God is working through all the ministries of your church.

Here is an example of a story shared in worship by one of Horizons Stewardship’s ministry partners.

This past week, more than 550 children and 175 volunteers filled the halls of our church building for our annual Vacation Bible Camp. One woman brought her three foster children and, thanks to scholarships underwritten through your contributions, these children were able to register for VBC, hear the stories of Jesus, make new friends and receive the unconditional love of our teachers and volunteers. Another person, a last-minute adult volunteer, began asking questions about the Bible stories being shared with the children.

So, along with another volunteer, she sat down during one of the breaks to read the Bible with a renewed curiosity. Our VBC Director commented, “This is why we do what we do.” I would add, “This is why we give what we give.” As we receive the offering today, I want to say, “thank you” for your generosity, which helps Vacation Bible Camp and so many other life-changing ministries happen.


Every week, you have an opportunity to tell a life-changing story. Your donors want to be a part of life-changing ministries. Help them see their return on investment.


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Everything you need to inspire generosity.


4 Disturbing Trends Behind the National Decline in Church Giving

Church Giving Realities

Charitable giving has consistently risen from less than $150 billion to more than $400 billion in the US over the last 40 years. Yet, last year individual giving fell by 3.4%, charitable giving fell by 1.7% (inflation adjusted), and sadly, inflation adjusted giving to churches fell almost 4%.


What do these giving realities mean for churches?

If this trend continues for just five years, churches in the United States will have 20% less ministry funding.


What should church leaders do next?

In this video, Joe Park explains the trends behind this decline in church giving. He also offers some very practical advice to church leaders to address these giving realities. Some of what Joe discusses is likely brand-new territory for many church leaders. Churches who have made these practices part of their funding model are enjoying increased ministry funding.



If you want to watch the rest of the Giving Intelligence series and access a variety of practical tools to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church, visit our Giving365 resource center.


Click here to request a free 20 minute consultation by a Horizons Ministry Strategist about how your church can increase ministry funding and improve discipleship through a process we call Next Level Generosity.

How to Talk About Money and Ministry in Church

Talking about Money and Ministry

Giving to religion fell 3.7% (inflation adjusted) in 2018* as people continue the trend of shifting giving away from the church to other non-profit organizations.  How we talk about money and ministry in the church is one of the reasons.


It’s Easier than You Think

Changing the conversation about money is easier than you might think.  You can begin with one simple vocabulary change. When you make this change, you’ll watch how quickly awkward money conversations can become opportunities to celebrate ministry impact and life change.

Listen as Joe Park, Managing Partner of Horizons Stewardship, explains how this simple change can resolve the tension you might be experiencing as you talk about ministry and money in your church.



If you want to watch the rest of the series and access a variety of practical tools and ideas to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church, visit our Giving365 resource center.

*Data provided by the 2019 GivingUSA report.

Why Shifting Your Fiscal Year is a Next Level Generosity Best Practice

Shifting Your Fiscal Year

By shifting their fiscal year away from the traditional calendar, an estimated 40% of vital churches have become better equipped to manage ministry funding. In most churches, up to a third of yearly income is received in December.  In the next offering from Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series, Managing Partner, Joe Park describes why moving to a non-traditional fiscal calendar should be one of your church’s best practices.



To find out more about Joe Park, click here.


Horizons’ Next Level Generosity (NLG) is a framework that enables church leaders to align people and resources to do more ministry. We’re not talking about a capital campaign, but a shift in culture that multiplies a church’s capacity to change lives and make a lasting impact on its community.  Churches that use NLG are reporting double-digit increases in year-over-year giving. To arrange a free 20-minute consultation to explore if NLG is right for you church visit or contact us at


Did you miss the first installments in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series? Find them in our free Giving365 vault by clicking on the Giving365 logo below.

Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource




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