Church Giving Stats and Strategies for Adapting to New Trends
Vanco has helped more than 25,000 churches improve their financial stewardship, engage members and inspire generosity with online giving and free materials like these stats. We’ve put together research and data plus actionable strategies your church can use to start growing giving right away!
Table of Contents
45 Church Giving and Growth Stats
Our team of investigators conducted a church giving survey of 1,000 churchgoers and combed through reams of data to provide decision makers with the stats they need to plan for the future. We looked at:
- 5% of churchgoers tithe (Church Development).
- Out of the 247 million U.S. citizens identifying as Christians, 1.5 million people tithe (Sharefaith).
- 77% of tithers give more than 10% (Health Research Funding).
- If every Christian tithed 10%, faith organizations would have an extra $139 billion each year (Health Research Funding).
- The giving preferences of those who tithe are almost evenly split between online giving (27%) and traditional giving (28%) (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
Average Giving Per Person in Church
- The average giving amount per churchgoer is $17 per week (Health Research Funding).
- That’s $73.67 a month per giver.
- That’s $884 a year per giver.
- U.S. Christians collectively make $5.2 trillion annually — nearly half the world’s total Christian income (Health Research Funding).
- The majority of church givers have zero credit debt.
Percentage of Donations Going to Faith
- 49% of the population gave to religious organizations (Philanthropy Outlook).
- In the U.S., faith and religious services receive the most donations, more than twice as much as education, which came in second (Giving USA).
- 29% of charitable gifts go to faith and religious services (Giving USA).
- Between 1990 and 2015, the share of overall donations going to faith dropped 50% (New York Times).
- Even though inflation rose in 2022, church giving also increased by 3.6% (reachrightstudios.com).
Church Online Giving Statistics
- Churchgoers age 35-44 are two times as likely to give with an app compared to those age 24-34 (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- Statistics show that adding an online giving option increases church donations by 32%.
- 30% of churchgoers 45-54 years of age say they prefer making donations with their credit or debit cards (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- 76% of people don’t carry more than $50 in cash at any given time (U.S. Bank Study).
- Check payments in the U.S. dropped by 58.8% from 2000-2018 (U.S. Federal Reserve).
- 30% of churchgoers aged 35-54 prefer to use a giving app as their method of giving (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- Much more than half of churchgoers aged 24-54 prefer to use electronic tools for church transactions such as bible school, bible study materials, fundraisers and event tickets (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- More than half of churchgoers aged 22-44 would give more to offset the costs if they knew their church was paying credit card and debit card processing fees (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- 37% of churchgoers age 35-44 would give more if they knew their church was paying credit card and debit card processing fees (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- Since 2015, preferences for giving with a smartphone app has risen 14% among churchgoers age 66-72 (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- Churchgoers age 24-34 prefer to donate with their credit cards more than any other demographic (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- 22% of eGivers contribute to their churches two or three times a month.
The Most Generous Church Givers
- Women make up three quarters of North American donors (Nonprofit Tech for Good).
- Baby boomers give $613 more each year than donors under 40 (Philanthropy Daily).
- People who regularly attend services give an average of $1,737 more to faith each year than those who do not even attend once a month (Philanthropy Daily).
- Churchgoers in the 35-44 age group are among the most enthusiastic about selecting a cause for their gifts, with 34% reporting doing so (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- 39% of eGivers contribute weekly (compared to 34% of traditional givers).
- 62% of religious households give to charity compared to 46% of unaffiliated households (Philanthropy Daily).
- Church givers between 55 and 65 answer the call to tithe more than any other age group, with 32% donating the traditional 10% of their income to the church (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- 85% of churches find their congregations are on Facebook, 15% use Twitter and 15% use Instagram (FellowshipOne).
- 62% of Christians worldwide plan on attending fundraising events in the next year (Nonprofit Tech for Good).
- Church members age 35-44 are the most regular attendees at church, with 22% going to church multiple times each week (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- Of all the volunteers in U.S., nearly a third offer their time to religious causes (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- 91% of new church visitors won’t return; however, if churches follow up with new visitors within a few days, that number increases to between 60% and 90% (Tony Morgan).
- Since the year 2000, the number of people who seldom or rarely attend church has risen from 40% to 54% (Gallup).
- Slightly less than two thirds of millennials identify as Christians compared to more than 80% of baby boomers (Barna).
- eGivers are 12% more likely to attend church conferences than traditional givers (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- eGivers are 10% more likely to participate in a church leadership committee than traditional givers (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
- From 1998 to 2021, church membership dropped from 69% to 47% (Gallup).
- 89% of Americans believe in some type of God (Gallup).
Understanding the Content of the Data and What Churches Need To Do To Adapt
There’s a lot of concerning data for churches, but you don’t need to be overwhelmed by it. Next, we analyze the stats and trends, offering actionable strategies to help your church adapt. By reviewing the data and following the actions suggested in this resource, you can help ensure your church remains healthy for years to come.
Church Giving Trends
It’s not news that many churches have been struggling in terms of growing their revenue thanks to the reduced number of churchgoers in the past few years. But there are many ways to improve your membership and finances! And these days, with the increased use of social media, the church’s mission has expanded its reach. Below we give you a look at some revenue and giving statistics to show how churches are steadily climbing up the ladder to gain more churchgoers and revenue.
- Churches are getting many donations online and online church participation has increased.
• In just a single year, over $2.2 billion in church donations were given online.
• 44% of people prefer to engage in prayer from home.
• 53% of practicing Christians streamed their churches’ services online.
• Although they don’t go to church on a regular basis, 17 million Americans still visit church websites.
• 96% of pastors live-streamed their services during the COVID pandemic.
• Check out our virtual churchgoer giving study for more on online worship.
- The majority of donations in the U.S. are given to religious organizations.
• Faith and religious institutions and services get more than twice the donations in the U.S. compared to the education sector.
- 49% of all church-giving transactions are made with a credit or debit card.
• 60% of churchgoers are willing to give to their churches digitally.
- Out of every $4 people in the U.S. donate, $3 is given to religious organizations.
- Congregations in the U.S. earn a huge amount of money every year.
• The latest church revenue statistics show that religious congregations in the U.S. take in around $74.5 billion per year. Around 17 million American Christians visit the official websites of their churches regularly.
- The average weekly donation amount made per churchgoer is $17.
• This figure adds up to $73.67 per month and $884 each year. It shows quite impressive growth.
- These days, Christians are giving only 2.5% of their income, which is much less than the donations made in the past.
Christian church charity statistics indicate that 17% of households in the U.S. donate much less to local churches compared to what they used to give. The amount of donated money has been reduced by 20% for 7% of regular churchgoers.
- Church membership is down.
From 1998 to 2021, church membership dropped from 69% to 47% (Gallup). This might seem like grave news, but it isn’t for churches that are willing to adapt. Most U.S. adults still believe in God; they simply don’t belong to a church. One of the main reasons for this is a drop in religious preference. About 89% of traditionalists have a religious preference. The numbers drop for each of the following generations, particularly with millennials, only 68% of whom have a religious preference (Gallup). This means there’s more openness among younger churchgoers when it comes to choosing a new sect or religion than the ones they grew up with.
In times past, believers generally stuck to the sect of the church they grew up in. Today, churches have a unique opportunity to draw in a wider set of visitors. It is up to each church to make sure these new visitors feel welcome. Unfortunately, most churches don’t have a strategy for assimilating visitors, which is why most visitors won’t return. However, when churches commit to simple strategies like following up with visitors, the chances visitors will return rise significantly. Tony Morgan, a leadership coach for pastors, has found that 90% of church visitors will return if someone follows up with them the same day. Even if you can’t follow up with a new visitor the day of their initial visit, it still pays to reach out. Around 60% of visitors will come back if the follow-up occurs within a few days after the visit.
One of the main reasons people look to join a new church is to feel the greater connection that comes from a faith community. These visitors want to feel like they belong in this new community and the best way to do that is to take the extra steps necessary to make them feel welcome. If you're looking to engage your visitors, make sure your church welcome committee hands out a welcome packet and materials for new members. In working with tens of thousands of churches over two decades, we’ve found that these materials can do a lot of the heavy lifting. If you don’t have a church welcome packet, you can use many of these free materials to get started.
Because we understand growing membership is a major concern of the churches we work with, we created also created a marketing guide. Promoting and building a community is harder than in decades past. The guide offers strategies, many of them low-cost or free, to help churches capture the attention of potential churchgoers.
Embrace the Changes
Church donations and tithing are common practices among older people. Although the trends have changed a little, churches still receive most of the donations in the U.S. because they have been there for thousands of years and they are not going to disappear soon. Churches need to find new and more innovative ways to reach potential donors and tithers. Church leaders need to inspire and encourage young people to start making contributions.
Why Churchgoers Aren't Giving and
What to Do About It
Although churches can’t control the trends happening around them, they can always inspire more generosity among members and guests. By overcoming the following nine reasons members don’t give, you can increase donations and be ready for unforeseen events. We’ve worked with tens of thousands of churches over decades and have found that making just a few simple changes can have a huge impact on giving.
Reason 1: Churches Don’t Ask.
The average amount of giving per person in a church is $17 per week (Health Research Funding).
The average giving per person in church each year is $884. This is enough for many churches. But what if a major expense arises?
Asking for contributions can be uncomfortable, but it is a must in every church to continue your ministry. Your church most likely has multiple methods to communicate with members. Choose a combination of bulletin messages, social posts, emails and more to get your message across. Your average church member is busy and can’t make it every week, so don’t forget to encourage recurring giving. With recurring giving, your members don’t have to remember to enter weekly donations online or write and send checks.
Reason 2: Churches Must Show Why Givers Should Give to Them.
About 5% of churchgoers tithe (Church Development).
Many people still tithe, just not in the traditional sense. Instead of donating 10% of their gross income to the church, they spread their donations across a variety of organizations and causes they hold dear.
Churches can’t expect they’ll automatically receive the full portion of an individual tithe, which is why it’s important to explain why givers should give to their church specifically. Don’t just tell your members about your mission and ministries — be specific about the people served and goals achieved. It’s always better to show than tell. Church members connect with stories about the good an individual church did with their donations far more than short and direct statements from the pulpit. Try showing images of the good work your church does. For example, you could share an image of children opening gifts during a holiday toy drive. Don’t worry — your video doesn’t have to be a high-grade production. A smartphone video is enough. Or you can share thank-you notes from those your church has helped. There’s an endless number of ways to allow givers to connect on a deeper level with the causes they’ve contributed to.
Reason 3: Churches Don’t Make Giving About the Donor.
80% of Americans give just 2% of their income (Nonprofits Source).
Nonprofits and some savvy churches understand they can’t make their needs the focus of communications with givers. Take the Arbor Day Foundation for an example. They tell their donors precisely how many trees were planted in their name, the sort of impact the trees bring and how much closer they are to reaching the goal that inspired the person to give. Messages like these help one-time givers become repeat givers.
The most important thing churches can do to encourage repeat giving is to offer thanks to the donor. There are several effective ways to do this ranging from a standard thank you to every giver, a handwritten note from your pastor expressing thanks, a phone call or a message published on your website. The key is simple: find the connection between what your mission and ministries need and how that can inspire members and guests to contribute. Once members feel like they play a personal role in achieving goals, they’ll be more inspired to give.
Reason 4: Churches Don’t Differentiate Themselves.
247 million U.S. citizens identify as Christian — only 1.5 million tithe (Sharefaith).
Fewer people tithe directly to churches today. This is likely because there’s much more competition for tithes. Over the last century, the number of charities has grown significantly, and thanks to digital advertising, their reach is much greater than ever before.
Churches can overcome the greater competition for each donation dollar by acknowledging their congregations are interested in giving to organizations beyond the church. Then, explain how gifts to your church will make a greater difference in the world or throughout your specific community. People often prefer to give to causes close to home. Because many churches have a physical presence in their cities, they hold an advantage over nonprofits that do not. Churches should also look to nonprofits as a source of inspiration for their communications. Nonprofits are particularly effective at inspiring generosity across large swaths of people. sgEngage breaks down the 15 techniques they use to be effective, many of which can be easily used by churches.
Reason 5: Churches Forget to Ask for Nonmonetary Assistance.
Almost one third of American volunteers commit their time to religious causes (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Of all the types of organizations drawing volunteers, religious organizations have the greatest levels of success. This why it’s important churches don’t forget about two of the most precious resources their givers have to offer: time and talent. You might have several professionals who could donate their services to the church or volunteer for fundraisers. Whatever you do, be sure to help your supporters understand how volunteer activities support the church’s programs along with financial contributions.
Reason 6: Churches Don't Establish a Need for Staff and Facility Costs.
The total income of Christians in the U.S. is $5.2 trillion annually, which is almost half the world’s total Christian income (Health Research Funding).
In the U.S., the potential for greater giving is high because so many are blessed with the resources to do so. Every church relies on staff and their facilities to serve the congregation.
Unfortunately, operational giving is not as attractive as donating to a cause, and congregants need to feel the church cares for them — not their wallets. When it’s necessary to discuss operational giving, be sure to explain the need and impact of employing church staff and keeping the lights on.
Reason 7: Members Believe Their Churches Already Have Enough.
77% of those who tithe donate more than 10% (Health Research Funding).
The average church donor is willing to give more in many cases, but churches can’t simply expect donations. That’s why it’s important to stay connected with donors. Show them why their gifts are critical to the church. This might be a time when regular reporting of how the church’s money is spent can make a difference.
Reason 8: Churches Don't Use All the Free Tools Available to Them.
46.1% of churches say social media is their most effective outreach method (Nonprofits Source).
Members of all ages are on social media, and churches are finding new opportunities to reach them. Aside from connecting with members who might be away (summering in warmer climates or caring for family), social media is a great way to better understand the needs of your members and guests. It can also help churches expand their audiences by working together with other churches or organizations on a common mission.
Social media is one of many tools available, but it isn’t the only resource churches overlook. One of the biggest opportunities for giving for any nonprofit organization, including churches, is #GivingTuesday. For those who haven’t heard of it before, it’s a bit like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, only instead of buying stuff, people give. Setting up a pledge drive for #GivingTuesday may seem like a lot of work, but Givingtuesday.org makes it easy with research and information from their GivingLab.
Because there are so many resources available to churches, it’s important to remember they don’t have to go at it alone. Vanco has hundreds of resources in our resource center on all sorts of topics to help churches grow their giving.
Reason 9: Churches Don't Make Giving Easy.
Churchgoers age 35-44 are two times as likely to give with an app compared to those age 24-34 (Vanco Churchgoer Giving Study).
eGiving isn’t just for the youngest church members. In our study of 1,000 churchgoers, we found that all ages have adopted it in large numbers. The reason is simplicity. The average church member no longer must remember to bring cash or a check with them to church. They can simply give with their smartphones through an app or a text-to-give function. Or they can give online, through a kiosk or a mobile card reader.
Making giving easier increases donations. One of our internal studies showed that by simply switching to eGiving, churches can increase donations by 26%. eGiving is also much better at turning one-time or infrequent givers into regular donors. This is because most eGiving options make it easy for donors to repeat their gifts. Often, it only involves checking a box and confirming the selection.
One Final Statistic (before moving on)
If every Christian tithed 10%, religious organizations would have another $139 billion available for ministries each year (Health Research Funding).
This final stat shows there is a lot of potential for churches to expand the generosity of givers. At Vanco, we’ve seen how addressing just a few of the areas we mentioned can have a huge impact on the financial stewardship of churches. There’s no need for large structural changes. The tens of thousands of churches we’ve worked with often started out small, adjusting gradually until they found the right blend of actions to lead them to their goals.
Four Types of Givers
Having researched-based action plans can do a lot to help your church’s financial stewardship. To help you better understand your givers, we’ve broken down the average church congregation into four groups to construct demographic-based outreach strategies for each.
- Tippers: Giving to a specific need or on sporadic occasions
- Givers: Somewhat regular contributions
- Investors: Mission givers with a plan
- Stewards: A lifestyle of generosity
People donate to their churches in a variety of ways. While the ultimate goal is to move people from donating to stewardship, sermons alone can’t bridge the gap. You need to understand the financial behavior of each group (tippers, givers, investors and stewards) and what inspires them to get them to the next step of their generosity journey.
1. Emotional Tippers
Tippers don’t plan to give. Instead, they emotionally connect contributions to specific needs and want to know why they should give (i.e., a tangible need) and what difference it will make (i.e., an emotional purpose).
There are many ways to create strategic tipping opportunities:
- Capital Campaigns: The most obvious is a capital campaign designed specifically for something new and tangible. Debt reimbursement doesn’t work because it’s not new or concrete. Building a student building or new parish is new and tangible. Or, if there are students in the congregation, now we’ve included emotion. Giving people an opportunity to meet a specific need encourages people to give for the first time.
- Outreach and Community Partnerships: An annual community-focused giving initiative is a perfect entry point for tippers. Giving to community organizations is specific and tangible. It also removes the excuse that “the church just wants my money.”
- Student Retreats and Camp Scholarships: If your church offers retreats and camps for children or students, asking people to consider funding the experience for others is a perfect tipping opportunity.
Successful tipping opportunities require a low bar and high emotion. Make sure you provide ample updates and celebrate milestones for all involved. Tippers move toward becoming givers as they experience the difference their contributions make.
2. Thoughtful Givers
Most thoughtful givers started as tippers. They contribute more regularly to needs and the ongoing mission. They have a plan to support their local church because they understand giving beyond emotion.
Thoughtful givers can connect their contributions to the ongoing needs of the ministry. They may not financially prioritize giving ahead of their own spending, but they do understand ministry takes money, and they are most likely benefiting from the church. This is a key for moving people from tipping to thoughtful giving. We need to connect the tangible dots between contributions and ongoing ministry while encouraging a plan.
Here are two specific strategies to move tippers to givers:
- Public “Thank You’s”: A great way to encourage thoughtful giving as a next step is to thank people publicly for helping make ministry possible. When there’s a baptism, a story to share or a successful event, thank people for financially making things like this possible. Whenever you gather (in person or online), say, “It’s amazing to see all that God is doing in and through our church. And, for those of you who give to this mission, you’re a part of every story. Thank you.” It’s not much, but it’s critical to creating givers. People want to know that their contributions are making a difference. And that emotion is what leads people to consider having a plan to support their churches financially.
- Field Trips: Moving people from thoughtful giving to sacrificial investing is an important step. Investors understand the bigger picture of generosity. It’s one thing to say, “It’s amazing to see what God is doing in our church,” it’s better to show them what God is doing in your church by literally bringing them to student events, camps, retreats and baptism services.
- Promote Automation: Pull out your phone and say, “If you don’t have a plan to support your local church, I’d love for you to consider automating your giving. Automating what’s important ensures we do what’s important.” Automated giving has made planned contributions much, much easier, turning thoughtful givers into sacrificial investors.
Our temptation is to show highlight videos in Sunday services or online. That’s fine, but it’s not enough to inspire a significant step of generosity. Seeing ministry up close reinforces the benefit of planned, mission-based giving. So don’t only take your largest givers to see ministry happen; take along some people who need to take the next step.
3. Sacrificial Investors
Thoughtful givers contribute to the mission through plans, but sacrificial investors prioritize percentage plans to support their local churches.
Picking a percentage of income and prioritizing giving first is the mark of a sacrificial investor. These givers understand the concept of giving first, saving second and living on the rest.
Connecting planned giving to the heart, not just the mission, is the secret to creating investors. This is why sermons and discipleship environments can be helpful in this step. People need to understand that contributing to ministry is investing in others. Using return on investment (ROI) language when encouraging people to develop a percentage is smart for getting sacrificial investors. The return on ministry investing is invaluable because lives are invaluable.
While sacrificially investing is a significant financial step for most, the journey isn’t quite complete.
The best way to move people from investing in the mission to generosity as a lifestyle is to challenge them to consider what they are giving over where they are giving. Investors contribute “their money;” generous stewards manage God’s resources. This needs to be taught in:
- Sermon Series: A sermon series is beneficial in this step. Take a week or four to help people understand who owns what.
- Small Group or Sunday School Curriculum: Like a sermon series, allowing healthy discussion and challenge through community is a powerful mechanism to move people toward generous stewardship.
- Mentoring: A discipleship pathway needs to address stewardship and resource ownership to grow generosity in the church. Mentoring is a healthy tool to support this last step, as these conversations are often more challenging, open and honest.
4. Generous Stewards
Generosity as a lifestyle is an act of worship and stewardship. Generous stewards fully believe their hearts follow their finances. Also, these givers recognize they aren’t giving away their money but stewarding God’s resources. Therefore, generous givers think in percentage, priority and progression. They understand, as stewards, that as God provides more resources, the percentage of generosity can increase.
Like sacrificial investors, generous stewards are created over time through discipleship and spiritual equipping efforts. As a church leader, you can help keep people living as stewards by challenging them to listen to God, pointing to the generational impact their generosity will have and personally thanking them for their ongoing support.
Fundraising can be frustrating, but as a pastor, you should see it as a pathway to discipleship. After all, the goal isn’t money, but hearts.
How to Conduct Your Own Survey to Reach Givers
Because churchgoers’ giving preferences matter so much for the financial stewardship of the tens of thousands of churches we work with, we’ve conducted giving surveys since 2015. With each survey, we not only learned about givers’ preferences but how to properly conduct a survey of churchgoers. Because each congregation is different, getting a stronger understanding of your givers’ wants and needs can help increase donations.
Reap the benefits of our work by using our premade survey to better understand your churchgoers and their giving preferences. Simply follow the guidelines below for help conducting the survey and putting the results to good use.
Looking for More Survey Samples?
Vanco has created 18 printable church survey templates you can use for nearly every occasion. Download them for free here.
How To Conduct the Survey
- We’ve made it easy to get started. The Church Giving Sample Survey is designed as an editable PDF. You simply email the survey to your members, then they answer the questions directly in the PDF, save it and email it back to you.
- Another option we recommend is to conduct the survey electronically, which simplifies compiling and analyzing the responses. If you don’t already subscribe to an online survey service, there are plenty of inexpensive, easy-to-use options. Find them by searching “online survey tools” on the web.
- If you do an electronic survey, also offer a paper version for those who don’t use a computer.
- Don’t forget to take advantage of group activities. Print several paper copies of the survey and ask members to complete and return it during a meeting or event.
- Communicate with your members about the survey and its importance! Use all the tools at your disposal: email, your website, social media, the church bulletin, Sunday announcements and more.
- Remember to include a due date (two to three weeks is plenty of time for a short survey) and send several reminders, particularly if you aren’t getting the response you’d like.
- Whether your members submit their answers by email, paper or through an online service, compile them using a spreadsheet or other database tool to analyze the results.
How To Put the Results to Use
Start by using the insights you capture from your survey to create stronger programs built around your members’ interests.
Expand Your Use of Technology
If you have a tech-savvy crowd, consider how to integrate technology into their experience at your church. This might involve updating your website, streaming your services online for members who can’t attend or better using your social media platforms to reach your congregation.
Update Your Communications
Are you talking with your congregation the way they prefer, or are your messages getting lost? You might find you need to move away from paper. This might mean you’ll need to rely on email, your website or social media to connect with your members.
Update Your Giving Methods
Understanding why members give can help you customize your messages about stewardship. Identifying giving preferences may also help you decide that your congregation is ready for electronic giving or additional options in an existing electronic program.
Report to Your Congregation
People need to know that their feedback had an impact. Sharing the results of the survey with your congregation and letting them know how it will be used to develop new programs can go a long way in building lasting relationships.
Opportunity for Greater Giving
There is a lot of potential for churches to expand the generosity of givers. If every Christian tithed 10%, religious organizations would have another $139 billion available for ministries each year (Health Research Funding). At Vanco, we’ve seen tens of thousands of churches increase their donations by using simple techniques such as eGiving, recurring giving and the other strategies we mentioned, but of all the strategies available, eGiving offers the most opportunity.
Is your church prepared to implement new methods of giving to meet your members’ needs? We encourage you to dive into our free resource center, complete with hundreds of helpful blogs, kits, materials, eBooks and guides. And if you have any questions, ask us! Our giving experts are here for you.
(Georgia United Methodist Foundation)
In today’s economic environment, a legacy giving initiative can help you tap the hidden potential of your most generous and loyal donors and transform the financial growth of your church. The Greatest Generation is disappearing. The first wave of baby boomers is retiring and worried about outliving their assets. Many are planning their legacies now. Have you spoken to them about their legacies?
1. Legacy Giving Is a Healing Ministry
Many church members, both wealthy and of average means, are burdened by decisions about the distribution of their assets at their death.
When members are invited to consider making legacy gifts, it is often a time when they contemplate how they want to be remembered – in essence, their legacies. These conversations often lead to a natural reprioritization of those institutions that are most important to members and their families.
2. Legacy Giving Conversations Can Be Transformational for the Church and the Members
The desire to make a difference is almost universal, regardless of one’s religious tradition. Making a legacy gift is one way to make a permanent difference in the church’s future. Your members are already making legacy gifts to The Salvation Army, World Vision and their alma maters because they’ve been asked – and many may want to make a difference for their churches, institutions with which they generally have much more intimate and sustained relationships.
3. Legacy Giving Can Unlock the Generosity of Your Congregation
National research shows that donors with documented bequests give twice as much annually as donors who have not made bequests. While it is not clear whether the more generous donors are more likely to make bequests or those who make bequests also contribute more annually, there is a relationship between the two that churches cannot afford to ignore. Legacy gifts can lead to major gifts. Often, after planning for significant legacy gifts, members realize that they will neither experience the joy and satisfaction of that gift nor will the church benefit until they are gone. Some members may rethink their commitments and decide to experience the joy of giving by making significant gifts while they are alive.
4. Legacy Giving Manages Risk
The most generous members in a church congregation are often its oldest. What happens when the three most generous members in a church die? In some cases, it could take 10 or more giving units to replace each member’s annual stewardship commitment. This places the congregation at financial risk – a risk that can be avoided.
5. Many Families Want to Document and Celebrate Their Family’s History With the Church
The opportunity to create endowments for outreach, education, pastoral sabbaticals, facilities or music excellence is a timeless way for members to demonstrate their lifetime commitments and devotion to their churches. Many longtime members have experienced a deep engagement in these aspects of their churches’ lives. Legacy gifts help to ensure that these precious ministries will continue to thrive.