Giving is a big deal, especially this time of year when churches often find themselves in the red, instead of the black. Once Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday have passed, the race is on to encourage generosity and elicit donations from congregations. While trusting God to help close the year in the black is, of course, the goal, most pastors and church staff find themselves “sweating it” if even just a little. The annual State of the Plate survey is quite timely and offers insight into people’s giving patterns.
The State of the Plate surveyed nearly 1,600 pastors, leaders, and laypeople to assess the current state of giving to churches in America. This year’s constituency based survey was a collaborative research project by Brian Kluth’s MAXIMUM Generosity ministry and leading church technology providers, Tithe.ly, Elvanto, ChurchOS, Apollo Apps, and ChurchMag.
The survey asked pastors, leaders, and laypeople from churches of all sizes and types across the United States to report on their church giving patterns and practices.
The findings from the 2016 survey reveal a dramatic shift in giving over the past three years, compared to the last time the survey was conducted in 2013. Giving has flat-lined or decreased for the majority of those surveyed, which has many churches scrambling to implement more modern giving solutions.
Key findings from the 2016 State of the Plate survey:
- 59% of churches surveyed reported flat-lined or decreased giving over the period 2015 to 2016. (A previous survey from 2013 revealed 53% of churches had an increase in giving that year.)
Only 41% of churches surveyed saw giving increase by 5% or more.
- 79% of churches surveyed offer website giving (up from 29% in 2010), 46% offer cell phone/text/app giving (up from 4% in 2010), and 32% have a kiosk/iPad in the lobby for in-person digital giving.
- Generous church giving is not limited to the older generations. 63% of those in their 20s-30s give 10% or more to their church.
- Only 41% of those surveyed said they give weekly, while 46% give once or twice a month.
- The top five reasons for missing church services are: out of town (74%), sickness (42%), serving during the worship service (16%), social commitments (13%), and had to work (14%).
- Even though many of the survey participants were pastors and church leaders, only 24% had planned to give an estate gift to their church in their will and 46% indicated that they did not even have a will.
- With more and more people shopping and paying bills online or through apps and auto-pay services, hardly anyone carries physical checks or cash on them anymore. Yet the number one way churches collect donations is by passing a bucket or plate during worship services.
“The 2016 State of the Plate report highlights the importance for churches to continue teaching generosity as a Biblical value and to provide as many ways as possible to help their people be faithful and generous givers to the Lord’s work,” said Brian Kluth, bestselling generosity author, speaker, and founder of the State of the Plate research.
Our research indicates that the need for digital giving solutions like those provided by Tithe.ly, are becoming increasingly important for churches, especially as younger generations are giving more and more.
For a copy of the 19-page report with ten key findings, seven graphs, and recommended resources to increase church giving go to http://tithe.ly/SOP2016. Plus, check out the incredible and shareable State of the Plate 2016 INFOGRAPHIC.