4 Reasons People Choose Not to Give and What to Do About It

by | June 20, 2018

“I have some good news and bad news.  The good news is the church has enough money to pay its bills.  The bad news is that money is still in people’s pockets.” This preacher joke isn't new, and neither is its message. Not many people in your church are giving. If people would just give, then the church really would have enough money, right?

In a typical church, about 50% of the households do not contribute financially…including many who are actively engaged in the church community. Why do active church families choose not to give?

 

Here are 4 reasons people aren't giving.

1 - Personal Debt

In May 2017, people had more debt than they did at the start of the recession.  Student loan debt has doubled and both car loans and credit card debt have grown significantly.  Debt reduces people’s capacity to be generous to the church. For more on the impact of personal debt on church giving, click here.

What to do: Offer classes such as Financial Peace University to help people take positive steps to get their financial lives in order and eliminate their debt. The first step in increasing capacity for giving is to enable members to take control of their debt and become debt-free.

 

2 - Consumer Attitude

It is easy to buy into the message that stuff will bring more joy, more security, and more happiness. We buy bigger houses, newer cars, nicer toys (especially if technology is involved) and take bigger vacations.  Yet the joy is fleeting, the security short-lived, and the happiness elusive. To learn more about the struggle between allegiance to God versus money, read more here.

What to do: Invite people to participate in hands-on mission work. This type of involvement often adds a much-needed balance to a consumer attitude and enables people to turn their focus toward gratitude, joy, security, and happiness.

 

3 - Fear

Fear is a long-lasting consequence of the recession that continues to shape people’s attitudes. Many still feel anxious about the future and how it will impact them financially.  A common response to fear is to cling tightly to what you have.  There is a reason why a clenched fist is not an image associated with generosity.

What to do: Preach the message of hope that is found in one’s faith in Jesus Christ and provides a stronger foundation for life.

 

4 - Flawed Perceptions

Non-givers often have the impression that any sermon or conversation about giving is about the church’s need to pay its bills.  In addition, personal finances are just that—personal and not the church’s business.   They complain about the ‘annual money sermon’ or even ‘beg-a-thon’ and protest if the pastor knows what people give.  Though flawed, their perception is their reality. These misconceptions can lead to serious consequences.

What to do: Change the focus of your conversations around money and giving. Talk about people’s need to give rather than the church’s need to get. Share the message of transformation through generous giving and make giving about God.

If your church hopes to cultivate generosity and help people grow in their giving, address these real-life issues. By taking these positive steps, the day will come when that joke is no longer true!

The blog was updated from the original published 8/15/2017.

5 Comments

  1. the hyperlinks in the above article don’t work. can you fix? thank you!

    Reply
    • latresawilson

      Valerie,
      Thank you for letting us know about the links. I have since updated them, and they are working now. Thank you again!!!

      Reply
  2. Really surprised that you didn’t mention a very important reason thoroughly covered by Clif Christopher. Competition. There are over 1.2M non profits. The question is not “why give”. its “why give to YOU”

    Reply
    • Kristine Miller

      Michael,
      Thank you for this excellent point. Donors may be quite generous, but giving to other charities and not the church.
      Kristine

      Reply
  3. Dear Valerie,

    People need to know where their money is going for – not jet planes and mansions. Pastors do

    need a living salary. A church budget needs to made by the people and always transparent.

    Missions need to meet real needs and be able to have a full accounting of where the funds

    are going. Charities need to demonstrate that at least 90% and hopefully more is actually

    meeting human needs. With proper research, one can find out what percentage is actully

    meeting human needs. Perhaps you could list these groups which will reveal what percentage

    of their income really meets needs. Everyone should have full disclosure and they will be

    more willing to give. Thanks from an eighty year older pastor.

    Reply

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