What Should You Be Tracking in Terms of Giving?

June 27th 2019 Mark Brooks

"What should I be tracking in terms of giving?"  A pastor recently asked me this question.  His church has gone through some significant changes that appear to have disrupted his giving.  We are starting to work on plans to reverse this.  We are looking at his giving trends to better craft our plans. 

In this post, I want to share with you what I track as I look at giving from churches in the Top 100 to churches with a $100K budget.  I also want to introduce you to a tool that will help you track giving called The Growth Report.

Be aware!  One of the first steps towards increasing giving is to be aware of your trends in giving.  I am often amazed at how many church leaders have little to no clue about the giving trends of their church.  How can you lead an organization and be ignorant of the revenue needed to fully fund that organization?  

I know the Church isn't a business, but could you imagine a company not knowing where their revenue was coming from?  Yet all too often in the Church world, we remain ignorant of the trends in giving.  If you don't know your trends, how can you tell if you are healthy?  If you don't know your trends, how can you effectively plan out your budget for the future?  What if you have trends that are pointing to a problem in giving?  

You can't fix what you don't know is broke!  Before you can fix any problem, you have to know what is causing that problem.  That comes as a result of being aware of your current trends in giving.  This helps you avoid the ignorance that is causing many churches to miss out on potential donor growth or in some cases, reverse giving declines.  

What should you be tracking?  I advise breaking your tracking into weekly tracking and longer-term tracking.  Let's start with…

Weekly tracking - The following is what I advise to track weekly…

  • Of course, track first, the amount that came in this week.  Was that offering ahead or behind your current needs?  Was it a typical amount for that weekend?  1st and 3rd Sunday‘s are historically the best offering weekends.  If the amount seems higher or lower, then probe as to why?  Were there large gifts?  Was attendance off, thus causing a decline in giving?

  • As a result of this past Sunday's offering, the one you look at weekly, where does this put you in terms of budget and expenses from a yearly perspective?

  • Were there any first-time donors?  If so, how will you recognize their gift so that they will want to give again?

  • Were there any significant gifts that skewed the data?   You might consider a thank you note if you think it would be received well.

  • Then track of how much came through traditional means, i.e., the offering and how much came from online.

Long term tracking - Here is what I advise in terms of tracking giving long term…

  • How does giving to date compare with the same period week from last year?

  • Track giving by quarters – I like to see how the various quarters stack up with other quarters but especially the current quarter you are in.

  • I also like to see a comparison of how much is given online now as opposed to the same period last year.  You want to see if that is growing or stagnant.

What is the best tool for tracking?   Church analytics has become all the buzz with several new firms producing tools to help churches track their giving patterns.  They run the gamut of functionality and pricing.  All of them are fee-based, which for many churches, presents a challenge.  I believe there is a better solution.

OnlineGiving.org has just released a new tool for all their clients that does much of what I have laid out above called, The Growth Report.  The Growth Report is a unique tool that allows churches to review and visualize their long term growth with Online Giving. Churches using the OnlineGiving.org platform can now generate a real-time growth report with a single click directly from the Online Giving control panel. 

The last thing you need is one more thing to do.  Yet knowing your giving trends is hugely valuable as you work to execute the present and plan for the future. 

The Growth Report is a great tool to help you quickly and effectively track your giving.  This simple but effective report will help you know your trends so that you can better work out a plan for growing your giving, so all your missions and ministries are fully funded.

You can read more about The Growth Report by clicking here.

Written by Mark Brooks 
The Stewardship Coach 
Acts 17 Generosity