Thankfully, the roller coaster ride of 2020 is ending. Despite how crazy this year was, something that hasn’t changed is the importance of recurring giving. In fact, this is probably more top-of-mind for church leaders than usual.

A report released in November from Lifeway Research reports that the pandemic’s effect on church giving has been uneven. According to Lifeway’s survey, a third of Protestant pastors report that giving at their church experienced less giving than was budgeted for and lower than 2019. Around twenty-one percent of respondents said that giving had increased.

Regardless of where your church landed in 2020, it’s best to engage as many congregants as possible in online recurring giving. Beyond enabling you to have a more predictable budget, the rate of recurring giving is one indicator of the congregation’s spiritual health. Additionally, when 31% of all giving to churches takes place in December — 12% coming in the last three days of the year — you have a unique opportunity coming up to communicate the value of recurring giving.

There are Three Types of Givers at an Average Congregation:

#1 – Retained Givers

These are congregants who give regularly. Often, they tithe every month. Within this category are a few sub-types:

  • Cash or check-only givers
  • Online sporadic givers
  • Online recurring givers

#2 – Lapsed/At-Risk Givers

These are individuals who have stopped giving. Lapsed givers haven’t given for three or more months. At-risk givers have suddenly changed their giving habits within the last one to two months.

#3 – Non-Givers

These are families and individuals at your church who don’t give at all. You might think that they aren’t generous, but that’s probably not the case. Studies have shown that generosity has not decreased in America. However, the number of nonprofit organizations and causes has increased in the last twenty years. The non-givers at your church could simply be giving elsewhere. The good news is, they’re likely to give to your church if you find the right way to reach them.

Before getting into specific communications strategies for each type of giver, it’s important to note a key metric to track regarding generosity. This metric is called the donor coverage ratio. The total number of households that give should be at least twice the number of households that don’t give at your church. Anything less puts your church in an unstable position should a key giving family leave the congregation or drastically reduce their giving.

Therefore, even if your church has seen increased dollars this year, consider investigating what your coverage ratio looks like. This will give you a more accurate picture of the health of generosity at your church.

Opportunities to deepen commitment and generosity exist at every giving level, even for your most loyal donors. Read on to learn strategies that will help you activate each group.

How to Engage Each Type of Giver at Your Church

#1 – Retained Givers

  • Thank them for their continued faithfulness
  • Cite specific examples of how their generosity has made a difference at your church and in your community
  • Present them with additional opportunities to give, including signing up for online recurring giving.

#2 – Lapsed/At-Risk Givers

This group represents a unique ministry opportunity. Households in this category likely stopped giving due to crisis or hardship. Maybe they are experiencing a job loss, marital troubles, a death in the family, or stopped attending because they didn’t feel connected to anyone at the church.

Prioritize these folks with a phone call and a follow-up email if they don’t answer. Tell them you miss them, you’re here to talk, and present them with ways to re-engage with your church if they feel led to do so.

#3 – Non-Givers 

Today’s average donor likes to know precisely what kind of impact their generosity will have before they commit to giving. Donors want to know that their investment will further the Kingdom.

Consider sending out an impact report of how your church is making a difference, then ask them to partner with you in that mission. Use photography and video if possible to make what seems intangible evident.

Technology Tools That Drive Increased Rates of Recurring Giving

You can execute the strategies above with a basic database and email tool, but it will be a very manual and time-intensive process. Ideally, your church should have a church management system (ChMS) that will allow you to group households based on various filters. This could include the last gift date, amount, and giving channel (cash vs. online).

Additional tools that enable you to further analyze the data will give you insights and filtering capabilities to build highly specific segments.

It would help if you also could deliver messages in various ways, including online and offline. In general, people respond to messages that are relevant and personal. This includes communicating in the channel through which they are most likely to respond. With their inboxes bombarded with emails, sending text messages or push notifications are other powerful ways of getting people’s attention. A ChMS that can send emails and text messages with links to make a gift reduces friction in the giving process. Ideally, these links shouldn’t require a password for people to give. The more steps involved in making an online gift, the more likely it is that someone will abandon your form.

Here are a few ways that TouchPoint’s new giving platform can help drive recurring giving:

  • You can brand each part of the process for your church, including the URL and emails.
  • An easy-to-use interface that enables givers to seamlessly toggle between one-time and recurring when entering a donation amount.
  • Set suggested amounts, frequencies, and funds in pre-authenticated giving links.
  • Recurring giving – if your congregation relies on pledging, TouchPoint enables you to set up recurring pledges, and the system will help the donor track their progress toward that number.
  • A mobile app that allows users to seamlessly log in and see their giving history and statements quickly,
  • And more.

At year-end, your church has a unique opportunity to engage donors to deepen their commitment through recurring giving. However you engage your congregation in giving at year-end, recognize it for the opportunity it provides to set your church up for deeper discipleship and impact in 2021.

Below is a list of articles we’ve published in the past on this topic:

4 Simple (But Often Overlooked) Ways to Increase Online Giving

State of the Plate Survey Reveals Turnaround in Church Giving

3 Reasons Why An Embedded Giving Form Leads to More Gifts

Giving in a Global Pandemic [Infographic]