Why Church Fundraising Dropped

Church tithe.

Most churches are raising less than they used to.

Below, I’ll talk about why that is.

The solution is not easy. (If it were easy to raise money, we’d all be raising a lot more.) But there IS a solution.

Quick Backstory

In my experience, the vast majority of churches didn’t need to be good at fundraising.

Churches didn’t need to get great at fundraising because the tithe – members giving 10% of their income to the church – meant that the church raised a lot of money despite not doing much/good fundraising.

So churches didn’t need to get good at Asking. Churches didn’t need to get good at Reporting on what donors’ / members’ gifts accomplished.

In other words, most churches didn’t need to learn the skills and approaches that nonprofits have developed over the years to help them raise more money.

(Additionally, the generational shift from Builders to Boomers has hurt church fundraising, too. Builders tended to give because they were supposed to give. Boomers tend to be more skeptical; they want to know more about why their gift is needed and what it will accomplish. Personally I think this skepticism is warranted, even though it makes fundraising harder.)

Quick Story

Recently my pastor preached a fantastic sermon about why tithing was a practice that didn’t make sense in today’s world. Everything he said made a ton of sense.

And giving at the church dropped overnight.

Why?

Because many people no longer felt like they had to give. They’d been taught to tithe; tithing was a duty. The tithe was one of the main reasons people gave as much as they did.

They gave less because their main reason for giving had been removed.

And that reason was not replaced with any other reasons.

(The lesson, as always: if you remove a reason to give today, you raise less money.)

What Should Churches Do?

To solve this problem, let’s admit that the pastor and leadership team usually aren’t aware of the fundraising skills needed to thrive in today’s church fundraising environment.

But here are the two things they need to do:

  1. Give their congregations new, powerful reasons to give today
  2. Get great at the Skills and Strategies that nonprofits use to engage donors and raise money

Skills and Strategies like:

  • Give people multiple reasons to give today
  • Get good at describing the outcomes of people’s gifts
  • Develop and use great offers
  • Report back to donors on the outcomes of their giving
  • Give donors the credit for those outcomes
  • Segment donors, and treat major donors differently than mass donors
  • In addition to talking about giving from the point of view of God and the church, talk about what’s in it for the donor

The good news (ha!) for churches is that all of these are learnable skills. Because fundraising is a knowledge issue, not a talent issue.

Get in touch if you’d like to speak with us or connect us with your church!

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