Churches track all sort of data (attendance, small group participation, % of attenders that volunteer in ministry, # of spoons in the church kitchen), but what does it all mean? Which data matters? I mean, REALLY matter. Church giving data is a powerful indicator of engagement.
A wise man once told me that numbers do not give you all the answers, rather the numbers help you ask better questions.
What about your church giving data? What if financial data could prompt ministry conversations that lead to transformation? The data tells a story… are you listening? Much like weekend attendance or small group participation, data (i.e. church giving data) is a powerful indicator of engagement.
But which data matters?
In my work as a Generosity Strategist, I have found data that indicates changes in behavior matter the most. Here are two data points you should track from your church giving data TODAY:
1. New Givers. Someone (i.e. individual, family unit) connected to your church has made a decision to expand their generosity to include your church. This may have been initiated as a response to ministry impact or special need that was communicated… you may not know for sure… but you could ask.
The Lead Pastor does not necessarily drive all of this interaction. Each church should strategically determine how this process should flow. Valuable for a letter/card to come for the Pastor’s desk, but there are situations where other options are available.
Connect with New Givers by sending a personal note of affirmation and appropriate thanks. Include stories of impact and offer next steps of ministry/church engagement. Consider this: provide the list of new givers (names only) to the leader of small groups ministry and ask him to invite them to the next on-ramping of small groups.
2. Lapsed Givers. This group has a giving history to your church – typically, more than $500 to your church’s general fund in a trailing twelve months – and then stops their giving for sixty days. What does this mean? Why did they stop giving? Often, the decision to stop giving is driven by a life-change event.
How to respond? Start by surveying other metrics of engagement. Have they maintained their involvement in volunteer ministry? Are they still attending on the weekends? What about small group involvement?
If there is a relational connection to a ministry leader, ask them to listen with greater attention during the next conversation. Make a phone call to check in. This conversation should never be about money – this is pastoral shepherding.
Trend that may surprise you: it is not uncommon to see a church that has a small increase in overall giving, has added New Givers, but has 4x as many Lapsed Givers!
An example of real church data that tracks New Givers, Lapsed Givers, and the net difference. You want to view this church giving data from a trailing twelve months so that you have up to date metrics.
Tools to use: